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When the Family System Includes Disability: Adaptation in the Marketplace, Roles and Identity

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Although families are recognised as a critical component in shaping consumer behaviour, one type of variation that has been overlooked is families in which a child has a disability. This research presents an analysis of themes related to family consumption that emerged from depth interviews with parents of families living with a special needs child. Three types of adaptation in family consumption emerged: i) adaptations to meet marketplace challenges, ii) adaptations in family roles and norms, and iii) adaptation in rituals and family identity. This study illuminates the notion that normalcy extends beyond the child to influence the consumption of the entire family. Because the marketplace seems to be constructed for "normal" families, the families interviewed here adapted the ways in which they engage as they juggle the medical, environmental and contextual needs of all members.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-11-01

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