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The intervening spaces of socio-cultural organisation have proved sources of fascination and powerful theory development in the fields of sociology, psychology and anthropology (e.g. Douglas, 1966; Van Gennep, 1961; Freud, 1950, Foucault, 1977). Consumer culture research has hitherto acknowledged the potency of studying transitional phenomena, spaces and places and the interactions of varied ontologies with the consumption experiences of the individuals or group in flux and evolution (e.g. Davies and Fitchett, 2004; Maldonado and Tansuhaj, 1999; Gentry, 1997; Schouten, 1991). But what of those whose reality is the threshold between two ordered and defined worlds, the centre of nowhere? This research focuses on the premise that for those whose sense of self is vague or blurred by the experience of existing midway between two distinct social spheres, belonging to neither, but embedded in both, consumption practices take on a divergent focus. Centring specifically on the pre-adolescent or tween, who has come to embody conceptualisations of a categorical anomaly (James, Jenks and Prout, 1998; Cook, 2004), a socio-cultural miasma (Jenks, 2005), the lived experience of a tween is explored using personal diaries, in-depth interviews and accompanied shopping trips. Thus we set out to explore the dynamics of consumer culture most recently articulated as ‘a social arrangement in which the relations between lived culture and social resources, and between meaningful ways of life and the symbolic and material resources on which they depend, are mediated through markets’ (Arnould & Thompson, 2005: 869), specifically amongst those who exist on the threshold of sociocultural organisation. This paper presents one of the theoretical conclusions of this longitudinal research project – the theory of metaconsumption – which explores consumption within their liminal shadow of activity and regeneration readying these social neophytes for the biggest performance of their lives.
Cody, K., Lawlor, K., Maclaran P.: THRESHOLD LIVES: EXPLORING THE LIMINAL CONSUMPTION OF TWEENS, in Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research
Accepted for Advances in Consumer Research Vol 37 (2010)