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Darren Dahl (Editor in Chief)Eileen FischerGita JoharVicki Morwitz

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Who Are You Calling Old? Negotiating Old Age Identity in the Elderly Consumption Ensemble

Michelle Barnhart, Lisa Peñaloza
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/668536 1133-1153 First published online: 1 April 2013

Abstract

As the elderly population increases, more family, friends, and paid service providers assist them with consumption activities in a group that the authors conceptualize as the elderly consumption ensemble (ECE). Interviews with members of eight ECEs demonstrate consumption in advanced age as a group phenomenon rather than an individual one, provide an account of how the practices and discourses of the ECE's division of consumption serve as a means of knowing someone is old and positioning him/her as an old subject, and detail strategies through which older consumers negotiate their age identity when it conflicts with this positioning. This research (1) illuminates ways in which consumer agency in identity construction is constrained in interpersonal interactions, (2) demonstrates old identity as implicated in consumption in relation to and distinction from physiological ability and old subject position, and (3) updates the final stages of the Family Life Cycle model.

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