Aging and consumption

Authored by: Carol Kelleher , Lisa Peñaloza

Routledge Handbook on Consumption

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138939387
eBook ISBN: 9781315675015
Adobe ISBN: 9781317380900


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Older people aged 65 and above comprise the most rapidly growing demographic in many parts of the world today, particularly but not exclusively in developed nations. Characterizing this growth over the past few decades are rapid and dramatic evolutions in consumption associated with active lifestyles and altered living arrangements, innovative medical technologies, changing pension and healthcare benefits, and increasingly interactive market accommodation and strategic targeting activities. This chapter provides an overview of research on aging and consumption (See Figure 28.1). As depicted in Figure 28.1, the chapter directs attention to the distinct theoretical perspectives that implicate a triumvirate of agents and institutions including elderly consumers, family, and the market, either separately or together, in aging and consumption phenomena, and it provides specific directives for future research. Specifically, the chapter begins by reviewing distinct theoretical perspectives, changes in research topics, in units of analysis, and in family, market and medical contexts over time. It proceeds to explore the intricate interrelations between consumption and aging in highlighting socio-cultural, physiological, and psychological perspectives; generational versus cohort categorical priorities; and third and fourth age distinctions. Topics include identity and subjectivity processes; social relationships, including family and service providers; individual information and decision making processes; specific consumption patterns and practices; popular cultural and market representations; and market experiences and ethics, including medical care. The chapter closes with future directions regarding the growing importance and challenges of disentangling the effects of aging people on consumption, and conversely, the increasingly pervasive aspects of consumer culture on understandings and treatments of aging, with emphases on intersectionalities of experience, market mediations, and social interventions.

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