The authors would like to thank the reviewers and the editor for their very useful and constructive comments on previous versions of this paper. They would also like to thank all the participants for their time.
The Commodification of Self-Esteem: Branding and British Teenagers
Article first published online: 7 FEB 2012
© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Psychology & Marketing
Volume 29, Issue 3, pages 117–135, March 2012
How to Cite
Isaksen, K. J. and Roper, S. (2012), The Commodification of Self-Esteem: Branding and British Teenagers. Psychol. Mark., 29: 117–135. doi: 10.1002/mar.20509
- Issue published online: 7 FEB 2012
- Article first published online: 7 FEB 2012
This study explores the role of consumption in the lives of British adolescents, with a particular focus on its role in forming and maintaining self-esteem. Through a large qualitative study, over 100 adolescents revealed their attitudes and feelings toward consumption—particularly fashion. It was found that as a result of peer pressure and the importance of conformity among adolescents, consuming the correct possessions at the right time, is essential for social acceptance, gaining and maintaining friendships and thus self-esteem. This paper argues that self-esteem has been commodified. The consequences of failing to “keep up” with consumption trends were revealed; these include social exclusion, negative peer evaluation, and reduced self-esteem. Moreover, these negative consequences were particularly pronounced among adolescents from low-income families who, in contrast to their financial status, were eager to purchase the more expensive brands. Adolescents appear to have a striking awareness of the role of branding, advertising, and peer pressure in forming their consumption attitudes, yet they are unable to resist them. The findings from this study highlight the need for a rethinking of the more traditional components of adolescent self-esteem.