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Intimacy, rites of passage and social support: symbolic meaning from lifetime shopping experiences

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What meanings might one draw from a lifetime of shopping? Shopping embodies multiple meanings for those who engage in its practice. Employing the theory of symbolic interaction the symbolic meaning of consumer shopping experiences over the course of consumer lifetimes are examined. Twenty-five semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with older consumers who were asked to reflect upon their lifetime of shopping experiences. Three convergent themes emerged relating to shopping: (1) intimacy, (2) rites of passage, and (3) social support. The themes drawn from the research help clarify the symbolic meanings derived from social interactions consumers experience when shopping, thus enhancing our understanding of consumer shopping behavior. Implications for academics and practitioners are discussed.
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Keywords: Intimacy; rites of passage; shopping; social interaction; social support; symbolic meaning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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