Age, sex, and social life



Studying extreme forms of consumption sometimes facilitates the discovery of themes that might be missed in a study of more mundane event (O'Guinn and Faber, 1989). "Age, Sex, and Social life" will be particularly focused on as the main determinant of this study.

According (Levy, 1959), symbolic consumption refers to the tendency for consumers to focus on meanings beyond the tangible, physical characteristics of material objects. Thus products function as social tools, "serving as a means of communication between the individual and his significant references."(Grubb and Grathwohl, 1967: 24). In order for consumer products and brands to function as communication symbols, meanings must be socially shared and continuously produced and reproduced during social interactions (Dittmar, 1992), (Ligas and Cotte, 1999, Holt, 2002); (Ligas and Cotte, 1999), (Simmel, 1904; Gronow, 1997) and (Sirgy et al, 1997) however states that, the meanings of objects are not always clear-cut; nor necessary always controlled by manufacturers and marketers, as consumers can invest products and brands with either positive and negative meanings. Products can therefore function as symbols of individuality and uniqueness, autonomy and social identification. All these higher-order needs can be linked to the maintenance and enhancement of self-esteem. (Bannister, 2003).

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Critically, consumption is certainly a significant source of symbolic meanings with which we implement and sustain our project of the self. In our everyday life, we employ consumption symbolism to construct and express our self-concepts as well as to identify our associations with others (Dittmar 1992: Elliot 1997; Wallendorf and Arnold, 1988) and (Elliot 1997, p.286). However, consumption symbolism is not a constant or intrinsic element; rather it is "socially constructed and there is no essential external reference point." Having said by, p.71), consumption symbolism is always in transit since it is "constantly flowing to and from its several locations in the social world, aided by the collective and individual efforts of designers, producers, advertisers and consumers."

Symbolic meaning could be refers as voodoo, poet and art, and so many others cases, in this case it will be view from product and consumption perspectives. According to (Helbrook, 1995; Solomon, 1983), McCracken, 1990) and (Simone, 2006) out rightly say, that symbolic meaning resident in products is recognised to be an important driver of consumer behaviour. Discussions of symbolic meaning in the consumer behaviour literature typically focus on the shared meanings of products, the symbolic use of the products being reliant on the ability of others to decode the product's meaning in a similar way to the owner/user.It is readily acknowledged that the same product can mean different things to different people, the possibility that contradictory meanings can be attached to the product by the same person does not appear to be recognised. While consumption provides us symbolic meaning to create the self and identify, it may simultaneously enchain us to the illusive sense of self and the endless realm of consumption. Accordingly, from a critcal point of view, "to have is to be enslaved."(Fromm,1976).

John (1992),Perhaps one of the strongest and most culturally universal phenomena inspired by consumer behaviour is the tendency to make inferences about others based on their choices of consumption objects. This phenomenon has certain potentially negative consequences in that it may involve prejudicial stereotyping and superficial interpersonal response criteria. On the other hand, this tendency is also a part of the processes that allow us to communicate non-verbally and to achieve the satisfaction of self-expression through consumption. For either perspective, the tendency to make, consumption-based influences is a phenomenon worthy of more attention that it has recently received in consumer research.

Age, sex, versus social life afore-mention as the main focus of this study and as it relate to symbolic consumption.


Age is the whole duration of a being, whether animal, vegetable, or other kind: lifetime (

Both Jahoda (1959) and Estvan (1965), "developing consistent inferences about the owners of certain products is partly a function of the child's age." Findings from both authors showed children line drawings of different settings (e.g., country club versus hovel), people (e.g., blue collar versus white collar), and consumption objects (e.g., expensive versus inexpensive furnishings), and asked them to match the settings, people, and consumption objects that "went together." Both for Jahoda's six-to nine-years-old Scottish children and for Estvan's three-to-12-year-old American children, older children were better able to match statue-congruent stimuli than were better younger children. These findings are compatible with more general studies of the children's statue awareness outside the context of consumption-based inferences (Leahy 1981; simmons and Roseberg 1971; Stendler 1949; Tudor 1971).

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Belk, Bahn, and Mayer (1982) cross-examined both status and non statue inferences made by four-to 15-year-old children, by college students, and by older adults, about the owners of various houses and automobiles varying in age, size, and style. They found that four-and five-year- olds' judgements were essentially random and that older children's inferences were progressively more consistent and more similar to those of college students and adults. Both experimental learning and Piaget's (1928) cognitive developmental stage theory support the expectation that children should be better able to make inferences about consumption symbolism as they grow older. While Piaget suggest that preoperational children (roughly ages of seven to 11) and older formal-operational children are more capable of such abstractions, some more recent work (e.g., Ausubel 1958; Donaldson 1978) suggests that such skills show a more than cognitive development.


Sex the distinguishing peculiarity of male or female in both animals and plant; the assemblage of properties or qualities by which male is distinguished from female. (Webster, 1931).

There is a longstanding hypothesis that is more sensitive and observant judges of human character than are men, but the evidence in support of this hypothesis is quite equivocal. In a review of evidence involving non-consumption-based inferences by adults, Macoby and Jacklin (1974) concluded that there are no observe sex differences in such inferences. In a subsequent review of studies involving non-consumption-based inferences by children as well as adults, Hall (1978) concluded that females may be slightly more sensitive judges than males.

Using consumption stimuli, the results are hardly more conclusive. Hamid (1972) and Belk (1978) found that females were indeed more sensitive judges than males in making inferences based on clothing and other visible consumption cues. Yet in other studies, both Hamid (1968) and Belk, Bahn, and Mayer (1982) found that males made stronger and more consistent person inference. Because the latter study used automobiles and houses as stimuli, it may be that males made clearer inference because these choices are more of part of the traditional male sex role than are choices of clothing and personal accessories (Cohn 1979). A relative argument suggest that male are more socialized to value material incentives ( such as cars and houses) for occupational achievement, while female are socialized to value socially relevant cues ( such as clothing) more highly (Davis and Moore 1945).

Among children, there is evidence that boys are more interested in and aware of products conveying social statue than are girls (Abels 1972; Boynton 1936; Cobb 1954; Jersild, Markey; and Jersild 1932; Wheeler 1963; Zeligs 1942). Only Snyder (1972) found no difference in boys' and girls' interests in statue-related consumption objects. Like Katz (1964), Snyder (1972) asked adolescents what indicated success or prestige in their eyes. The other studies, all of which concluded that there is greater interest in consumption cues to status among boys, were based on elicited lists of wishes. In these cases girls listed clothing more often in their wishes than the boys, but all other material possession as well as wealth were found more often in boys' wishes.


Social class can be referred to a grouping of people with similar values, interests, income, education, and occupations (Mosby, 2009).

The general research on social class differences in children's awareness of status and conceptions of "rich" and "poor" people finds few differences. (Katz 1964; Leahy 1981; Snyder 1972). One study found that lower social class adolescents in United Kingdom were most likely to compare themselves to others in terms of clothing, while higher class adolescents were most likely to compare themselves to others in terms of school performance (Brown and O'Leary 1971). A study of children's wishes (Horrocks and Mussman 1973) also found lower class children more likely to wish for possessions than were middle class children. While such studies might be interpreted as suggesting greater material concern or more "compensatory consumption" (chinoy 1952) among the success-handicapped lower social classes, they may also suggest that among higher social classes children, material possessions are more readily available and are not seen as a sufficient criterion for prestige (Douglas and Isherwood 1979). This view is supported by studies of the effect of product scarcity on prestige (Murray1980; Snyde and Fromkin 1980).

Belk, Bahn, Mayer (1982), suggest that a greater desire for status-conferring possessions needs not mean a greater attentiveness to such cues in perceptions of others. In these inference studies, higher social class children make clearer and more consistent status inferences than do lower social class children (Estvan 1952, 1965; Johoda 1959; Simmons and Rosenberg 1971). A study focusing on children's perceptions of adult consumption objects (Belk, Bahn, Mayer 1982) reports the same finding for both status-related and non-status-related inference dimensions. Experience again seems to explain such findings. Higher social class children are likely to have greater exposure to a variety of consumption cues and therefore have greater opportunity to observe relationships between product owners and their product choices.

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Conclusively, (chinoy 1952), (Katz 1964; Leahy 1981; Snyder 1972) Macoby and Jacklin (1974) and McCracken (1988) accorded that, symbolic consumption definitions on Age,Sex and Social class in centuries prove unchanged in characters. However, findings suggest that older children hold stronger consumption-based stereotypes than younger children, and females hold stronger stereotypes than males, (Hamid (1972), and the higher social class children hold stronger stereotypes than the lower social class children.(Horrocks and Mussman 1973).


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