Most adolescent consumer research focuses on individual variables (e.g. susceptibility to peers' influence), without studying the peer group structure. This research investigates the role of adolescent girls' social position within their networks in exchange practices with friends. By using several different methods (social network method, participant observations and semi‐structured interviews), this study reveals that different forms of clothing exchanges (sharing, lending and borrowing) associated with different social motives (needs for socialising, experiencing, belonging, distinguishing and influencing) evolve differently, depending on adolescent girls' social positions (clique member, liaison and isolate). Whereas clique members engage in sharing practices to socialise and share experiences with their friends, isolated adolescent girls engage in other activities (e.g. asking to borrow clothes) as a way to cope with feelings of loneliness. Some liaisons limit their exchange practices to loans, to emphasise their leadership, but most of them avoid sharing clothes in an attempt to preserve their uniqueness. These results suggest an extended view of materialism, with greater emphasis on use and social motives than on acquisition and its utility. Accordingly, this study proposes a new conceptualisation of materialism, as the extent to which adolescents engage in exchange practices to construct and maintain their social identities. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Journal of Consumer Behaviour – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2014