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Title: Exploring ongoing consumer socialisation processes : how interactions between adult children and their parents influence the parents
Author: Tang, Zhewen
ISNI:       0000 0004 9354 0515
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores the processes of parents gaining consumption knowledge and skills from their adult child through everyday interactions/communications in the Chinese single child families. Nine family cases are presented, collected through two-phase phenomenological interviews. These family cases contain the views of all three family members (i.e., the mother, the father, and the adult child) to capture the full stories of family consumption interactions. The family unit is highlighted as an important place where individuals receive and develop consumer knowledge, skills and values through the influence of interaction with other family members (e.g. the adult child). The process of this is defined as consumer socialisation. Current study argues that our understanding of parents (i.e., adult consumers) in consumer socialisation research needs to be reframed in order to take into consideration the intergenerational relationships formed in adult families and to highlight the processes through which adults' consumer behaviour patterns are re-shaped in these interactions (Moschis, 2007, 2012). In particular, this focus is on the influence of adult children on their parents. To distinguish parents receiving influence from agents outside families (i.e., adult's secondary socialisation in general), this study adopts the term 'reverse socialisation' focusing the research on the influence of adult children on their parents. From the family system theory perspective, many researchers have criticised the studies of exploring socialisation behaviours within discrete and isolated family dyads without considering the family as a whole with a complex interplay of individual, relational and collective practices amongst family members (Epp and Price, 2008). Conducting the research in Chinese society with single-child families is able to provide a supportive but a still under researched context for exploring adult consumer socialisation with strong intergenerational influence and more intact family system allowing capture of each family member voice (Mandrik, Bao and Wang, 2018). This study adopts an interpretive approach to capture "important relationships embedded within the delicate nexus of individuals, family … with a sensitivity that does not obliterate the very thing it is trying to understand" (O'Guinn and Faber, 1991, p.377). The results emerging from these data confirm that there are ongoing adult consumer socialisation processes occurring in the older family unit. The findings show that parents and the adult child can form different socialisation environments for parents' gaining consumer knowledge, skills, and values due to different factors' influence. Parents and the adult child can go through different adult consumer socialisation processes with different strategies adopted by the adult child and different power influences exerted between parents and the adult child. Different learning outcomes, effects and consumption outcomes are generated. Moreover, a supplementary finding found that there are different timelines for parents going through the consumer socialisation processes associated with different socialisation learning outcomes. The implications of this research suggest that the ongoing adult consumer socialisation process has a similar process with children's consumer socialisation process which has been mainly focused by consumer research. However, the ongoing adult consumer socialisation process evidenced more complex elements as the findings emerged. The complexity and nuances of the environment, processes and outcomes observed indicated that the term 'reverse socialisation' does not capture the true nature of ongoing consumer socialisation. Family consumer research should extend consumer socialisation study to adulthood as consumer socialisation has long been argued as a life-long process due to rapid social change and the technology development.
Supervisor: Zolkiewski, Judith Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Reverse consumer socialisation ; Family consumer research ; Intergenerational influence ; Micro consumer environment