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From young to post-soviet: Russian older women and lived meaning of fashion consumption

Title
From young to post-soviet: Russian older women and lived meaning of fashion consumption
Author
EvaBabicheva
Advisor(s)
Kyu-Hye Lee
Issue Date
2018-02
Publisher
한양대학교
Degree
Doctor
Abstract
Older women in Russia constitute sizable demographics that is gaining significant presence in consumption marketplace. Yet, marketing and consumer behaviour scholarship has been ignoring this potential market segment because of the existing age stereotypes regarding low financial and social status of older women. Recently, however, it has been suggested that post WWII baby boom generation women in Russia, similarly to baby boom generation in US and Europe, began to challenge stereotypical age-related social norms. Such practices are linked to proliferation of consumption as a form of self-expression in post-soviet culture, as opposed to its soviet counterpart where ideologically consumption was invested with utilitarian values. Fashion consumption in particular is of interest for this research because fashion and dress practices serves as an accurate reflection of cultural and social changes. The aim of this study is to analyse Russian older women experiences with fashion consumption in order to understand how clothing and fashion-related practices help them to reconstruct the meaning of older age. The overarching research questions is as follows: What does fashion consumption mean for Russian older women and how it is used to reconstruct the meaning of ageing process? In line with the proposed question, two sub-questions were further developed: 1) What consumption practices related to shift from soviet to post-soviet culture are present in participant’s experiences? 2) What consumption practices related to shift from younger to older age are present in participant’s experiences? The research questions are answered through the phenomenological qualitative study within consumer culture theory (CCT) domain that focuses on sociocultural, experiential, and symbolic aspects of consumption. 25 female participants whose birth years fall within chronological boundaries of baby boom generation in Russia (1943-1964) were interviewed using in-depth phenomenological, or long, interview technique. The technique aimed at eliciting lived meaning of fashion and age by asking participants to tell about their real-life fashion consumption stories. The goal of this technique is to provide a holistic understanding of described phenomenon, that is, the meaning of older age. Obtained data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using hermeneutical – interpretive – framework wherein the researcher looked for common lived experiences that constitute “global” themes. The main advantage of this analytical framework is the ability to discover a link between everyday consumption experiences and larger existential experiences and feelings. 8 themes emerged from the data with 4 themes for each research sub-question. With regard to shifts from soviet to post-soviet, participants experienced indicated that they adjusted to contemporary fashion consumption culture. However, they still experienced tensions in the process of this adjustemt that were resolved by creatively negotiating soviet consumption practices to fit contemporary realities. In terms of shifts from young to older age, older age was experienced as the time when participants were successfully navigating between mass and individual, expensive and cheap, trends and style, daring and appropriate – something they often struggled with in their youth. The overarching property that can unite the emerged themes in the coherent whole is the significance of balance in the lifeworld of participants. In terms of this holistic property, young age and soviet realities were described as the time when participants felt out of balance and powerless due to the hardships and constraints of soviet consumption culture. On the contrary, older age and post-soviet reality appeared as the time when participants increasingly felt being in balance by gaining control over self and their fashion consumption. Overall, fashion consumption as balanced experience reconstructed the meaning of ageing as living balanced, harmonious life during the later years. Findings indicate that the meaning of older age in Russia, similarly to other developed countries, is undergoing ideological changes, and fashion consumption plays significant part in this process. At the same time, this process has its unique, historically and culturally contingent characteristics that make Russian older women’s experiences with fashion and ageing global and local at the same time. Therefore, this study contributes to the growing body of research on reconstitution of ageing and the role of consumption by providing findings from the country where integration into consumption culture was not a steady and linear process. Also, the current exploratory research contributes to the local – Russian – scholarship by disproving the current stereotypical view on older age. And with that, providing an empirical evidence for the successful integration of older women in contemporary market economy. Scholars in consumer behaviour disciplines should engage more actively in the research on underlying reasons and meaning of consumption for older women in order to help fashion marketers and advertisers to develop appropriate communication strategies with this significant consumer target group. As the present interpretation is based on self-reported consumer stories rather than on researcher’s observation of actual practices, future research can utilize ethnographic methods to provide more comprehensive and thorough perspective on fashion consumption behaviour of Russian older women.
URI
http://www.dcollection.net/handler/hanyang/000000106136http://repository.hanyang.ac.kr/handle/20.500.11754/68404
Appears in Collections:
GRADUATE SCHOOL[S](대학원) > CLOTHING & TEXTILES(의류학과) > Theses (Ph.D.)
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