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Hip children, good mothers – children’s clothing as capital investment?

Erica Åberg (Department of Economic sociology, University of Turku, Finland)
Jarna Huvila (Department of Marketing and International Business, Turku School of Economics, Finland)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 16 July 2019

Issue publication date: 19 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

A growing body of sociological literature defines physical appearance as a form of capital, a convertible resource in contemporary societies. The purpose of this study is to examine the importance of consuming on children’s fashion as a part of this appearance-oriented consumer culture. We investigate if the mothers we interviewed see their children as their extended self and actually are negotiating their own aesthetic capital through their children’s clothing.

Design/methodology/approach

In this study, we utilise 10 semi-structured themed interviews with Finnish mothers who were recruited from a popular Facebook group, focused on discussing children’s fashion.

Findings

Results indicate that women see their children as their extended self, and as such, they can be seen negotiating their own aesthetic capital through consuming practices for their children. Additionally, the investment in the physical appearance of children can be seen as a construction of a contemporary understanding of proper motherhood in the middle-class context.

Originality/value

Although extensive research has been carried out in expenditure on children’s fashion, this research offers a novel approach by combining research on parenting in a consumer culture with the theory of aesthetic capital to explore the materially based construction of parenting in the Finnish context.

Keywords

Citation

Åberg, E. and Huvila, J. (2019), "Hip children, good mothers – children’s clothing as capital investment?", Young Consumers, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 153-166. https://doi.org/10.1108/YC-06-2018-00816

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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