Mothering Culture in Denmark: A Study on the Consumption of Children's Fashion in the Transition to Motherhood

Frederikke Engel Aaen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Today‟s society can be categorised by mass-consumption, commercial relationships and the explosive growth of consumption and brands i.e. a hyperconsumption society. In this connection, consumerism is not characterised by the usage value of goods; we consume to gain social esteem, to be conspicuous, admired or recognised as belonging to a group or being distinguishable from inferior groups, as explained by Thorstein Veblen. However, consumption for oneself and emotional consumption are also important factors. In this context, there are several factors directly influencing how women act as mothers and feel about motherhood i.e. institutional, medical, political, socio-cultural and physiological factors. Within all these areas, consumption plays an important role. The overall purpose of this thesis is to examine why new mothers use consumption of children‟s luxury fashion in the transition to motherhood and how it is being expressed in children‟s fashion online brand communities. The latter has been included, considering the fact that social media have made an important impact on today‟s society. Thus, in this thesis I analyse how mothers incorporate their children into extended self, as explained by Russell Belk, by purchasing children‟s fashion brands that represent their desired characteristics of self, and how they use consumption as a hobby to gain in self-esteem. Moreover, I examine analytically how children‟s clothing plays an important role for mothers‟ ascribed status in society and how expensive children‟s fashion expresses „good motherhood‟ on the basis of social expectations. In addition, I reflect on how mothers‟ consumption can be related to the hyperconsumer‟s anxiety of uncertainties and the hyperconsumer‟s obsession, as explained by Gilles Lipovetsky. Lastly, I analyse brand communities, herein mothers‟ engagement, demonstrating the importance of social media as an influencing factor with regard to the perception of „good motherhood‟. In this context, empirical data has been retrieved from netnographic research in two children‟s fashion online brand communities and five in-depth interviews with Danish mothers. Furthermore, relevant theory by Russell Belk, Andrea Davis, Lars Pynt Andersen, Gilles Lipovetsky, Muniz & O‟Guinn and Tsai & Men among several others has been applied to support or invalidate the empirical findings. To summarise, the main empirical findings of this thesis are as follows:  New mothers incorporate their children into extended self, based on the consumption of children‟s fashion, to represent their identities  Expensive children‟s fashion is related to the social expectations of „good motherhood‟  As a result of the motherhood transition, consumption of children‟s fashion can develop into an obsessive hobby  Brand communities, and social media in general, play an important role in the transition to motherhood, as mothers obtain acknowledgement and connect with like-minded mothers

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages301