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Consumer resource integration amongst vulnerable consumers: Care leavers in transition to independent living

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The purpose of this study is to develop an improved understanding of how consumers facing multiple resource constraints deal with consumption-related experiences. By focusing on care leavers and exploring their transitions to independent living, the research develops new insights into resource interactions and consumption experiences. An interpretivist approach is adopted, comprising in-depth interviews and focus groups, to explore the interaction of operand and operant resources under conditions of resource constraints. Our findings show evidence of care leavers creatively combining constellations of their own resources to access and activate resources afforded by the marketplace. However, at the point of leaving care, our participants overall lack the well-interconnected operant resources that would provide greater capacity for generating value as they perform adult consumer roles. Disentangling the different types of resources, and exploring resource dynamics as people pursue life projects and consumption goals, enables more detailed and consumer-centric diagnosis of consumption patterns for resource-constrained consumers. The implications of this study are discussed, in particular in terms of alleviating the potential risk of care leavers becoming either under-skilled or marginalised consumers due to the lack of opportunities for systematic learning of consumer knowledge for coping in the marketplace.
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Keywords: resource integration; transitions; vulnerable consumers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Lancaster University, UK 2: Nottingham University Business School, UK

Publication date: 2014-02-03

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