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Title: New consumption identities in virtual worlds : the case of 'Second Life'
Author: Nikolaou, Ioanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 1681
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2011
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The dynamic development of new technologies influences consumers in many different ways reaching far beyond the shift in consumption patterns, challenging the way consumers live their lives. The role of new information technologies is continually growing in our daily lives changing the way we see the self and the world around us. Consequently, the advent of the computer culture incites a radical rethinking of who we are and the nature of being human, which clearly illustrates the postmodern age. As a result, over the past decades consumer research has moved away from simply viewing consumers as information processors to consumers as socially conceptualized beings. This Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) movement views consumers and consumer behaviour as articulations of meanings and materiality within the productive of complex cultural milieu. This ethnographic thesis focuses on the three-dimensional virtual world of Second Life, which is a 'Real Life' simulation and where the residents represent themselves through 'avatars', creating a kind of virtual materiality. This raises interesting questions for consumer researchers, not just about how consumption is enacted, produced and articulated within this environment, but also in relation to theoretical and methodological issues. More specifically, this thesis critically examines the development of interpretive consumer research and the emergence of the Consumer Culture Theory framework in the context of the juxtaposition of reality and hyperreality and takes a position which goes beyond the 'body in the net/physical body' binary. Therefore, this thesis places the 'avatar-as-consumer' at the centre of the research focus. The current thesis develops a theoretical framework which examines the role of consumption in resolving key paradoxes. Moreover, it extends the netnography framework from mainly text based research to the visual characteristics of virtual worlds so that it can be useful for the study of complex online environments and as a result, how the role of the researcher goes beyond netnography to virtualography is discussed.
Supervisor: Bettany, Shona M. M.; Larsen, Gretchen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Netnography ; Second Life ; Bodily Adornments ; Accessories ; Clothing ; Virtual materiality ; Avatar-as-Consumer ; Consumer Identity ; Computer culture ; Virtual worlds