Youth Identities and Consumer Culture: Navigating Local Landscapes of Global Symbols

Dannie Kjeldgaard, SDU Odense University
ABSTRACT - This paper discusses consumption within one segment which is often claimed to be particularly global: the youth segment. Based on a qualitative study among 12 young high school students from metropolitan and provincial areas in Denmark, the paper discusses how young consumers use resources from global and local consumptionscapes in their identity work and how global and local structures also determine the resources and thereby the identity possibilities available to young consumers. These resources are used in a local context of identity as positional devices as well as ways of handling perceptions of time and space in relation to the individuals’ life projects.
[ to cite ]:
Dannie Kjeldgaard (2002) ,"Youth Identities and Consumer Culture: Navigating Local Landscapes of Global Symbols", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, eds. Susan M. Broniarczyk and Kent Nakamoto, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 387-392.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, 2002     Pages 387-392

YOUTH IDENTITIES AND CONSUMER CULTURE: NAVIGATING LOCAL LANDSCAPES OF GLOBAL SYMBOLS

Dannie Kjeldgaard, SDU Odense University

ABSTRACT -

This paper discusses consumption within one segment which is often claimed to be particularly global: the youth segment. Based on a qualitative study among 12 young high school students from metropolitan and provincial areas in Denmark, the paper discusses how young consumers use resources from global and local consumptionscapes in their identity work and how global and local structures also determine the resources and thereby the identity possibilities available to young consumers. These resources are used in a local context of identity as positional devices as well as ways of handling perceptions of time and space in relation to the individuals’ life projects.

The Mythology of the 'Global Youth Segment’

In the marketing literature youth culture has been held up as the prototypical example of a global segment (see e.g. Hassan and Katsanis, 1991). The basisfor the excitement about the youth segment (under various names such as the 'teen segment’, the 'Gen X’ culture’, 'baby busters’, 'the MTV Generation’ etc.) largely stems from the allegedly uniform consumption habits of young people all over the worldBtheir clothing, music tastes, and media habits. This leads towards the conclusion that young people have "shared habitats of meaning" (Hannerz 1996) and that we are therefore able to speak of a global consumer segment. However, in the discursive construction of the 'global youth segment’, the role of the local spaces in which young people conduct their everyday life is largely ignoredBthe role of the local, in relation to identity and consumption, is in one sense hidden.

Furthermore, little is done in terms of what young consumers actually do with uniform global products and imagery. That is, how global products and symbols are re-articulated to serve local and personal issues of identity.

As globalization is creating an explosion of products and images from which to choose for young consumers, and as modernist identity projects of unity and progress break down, one is left with questions of how young consumers construct meaningful identities and how strategies of identity may be evoked as lifestyles and subcultures fragment (Firat 1995, Firat & Schultz 1997). Ziehe (1992) and Melucci (1992) propose that the notion of youth culturesBtraditionally analyzed as spectacular subculturesBdoes not make sense anymore. First of all, because the notion of being young has come to encompass not only the "empirically young" but also the "culturally young" (Ziehe 1992); secondly, innovation (new subcultures) are instantaneously incorporated into the market as trends and styles from the young are captured through 'trendspotters’ etc. (Klein, 2000). The combination of global consumptionscapes and instantaneous incorporation of styles by the market means that the young (as other consumers) are faced with a plurality of styles from which they can choose in the construction of their own lifestyle (Miles 1999, Giddens 1991).

In terms of studies of global consumer segments within consumer research, Thompson & Tambyah (1999) have studied the phenomenon of cosmopolitanism among expatriates. While contributing to the understanding of the emergence of a new consumer group whose members are committed to more than one locality and provide insight into new issues of acculturation, the focus of their work is not on the effects of globalization in specific localities and in ordinary life.

On the other hand, studies within consumer research have addressed young people’s use of commercial culture in everyday life. Most notably is probably Ritson & Elliott’s (1999) article on teenagers’ use of advertising which have shown how ads become topics for playground discussions and become part of building and maintaining social relations, thus removing the ads from their commercial sphere into everyday life. The creativity which marks the young audience is manifest in the ways they relate to intertextual commercials and also produce new meanings by relating different texts from different fields of popular culture to one-another (O’Donohoe 1997). The commercially-available symbols continuously become transformed as they are used in new situations and are attached to new and multiple referents.

Where the studies of global segments have up to now ignored the articulation of meaning in everyday life, the studies of young consumers have left the issues of globalization relatively untouched. Notable exceptions from this rule have been e.g. Wilk’s (1996) study of global consumer culture in Belize or Miller’s (1998) study of Coca Cola in Trinidad.

This paper is positioned at the intersection of studies of globalization processes and young consumers’ identity strategies when partaking in a range of (globalized) consumptionscapes.

FRAMEWORK

In order to throw light upon the role of the local and the global in young consumers’ everyday life, this paper draws on Holt’s (1994) notion of cultural systems of taste as well as works on poststructuralist approaches to lifestyle and consumption analyses (Thompson 1999; Holt 1997). Here, these thoughts are applied to the issue of globalization and local patterns of consumption. These conceptual ideas usually describe one particular segmentByoung consumersBin relation to the role that globalization has on their consumption lives.

GlobalizationBa world of scapes

In his seminal work on the global cultural economy, Appadurai (1990) uses the landscape metaphor to illustrate how different spheres of social life increasingly are shaped by cultural flowsB two-way flows within five 'scapes’: [There is disagreement between scholars as to whether globalization is something new or a phenomenon that has always existed. Giddens, for example, believes the process of globalization is linked with the post-feudal rise of modernity and the nation-state, whereas Robertson argues that globalization predates modernity but that the process is occurring at an increasing speed (Tomlinson 1999; Waters 1995). The arguments in this paper would tend to follow the latter line of thought and applies the following general definition of globalization: "A social process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede and in which people become increasingly aware that they are receding". (Waters 1995; 3).] "ethnoscapes", "mediascapes", "technoscapes", "finanscapes", and "ideoscapes". These flows increase the availability of symbols and meanings in consumers’ everyday life in a way such that what is available in one place is also available in any other place (Waters 1995). This leads to a globalization of fragmentation (Firat 1997) in which the consumer has at hands a multitude of resources for dealing with everyday life.

Ger and Belk (1996) have since added consumptionscapes to Appadurai’s initial five scapes in order to make the flow and use of goods and commercial symbols a distinct factor in describing the process of globalization. The global consumptionscapes add to the resources available and become part of how "[c]onsumers draw from all available global and local, new and old sources as they use products to position themselves in the local age, gender, social class, religion and ethnic hierarchies." (Ger & Belk 1996; 294). Hence, Ger & Belk call for research at the intersection between globalization theories and research on the role of consumption in everyday life. The local re-articulation of Western products or Western models of the market is explained well by Friedman (1990) and others. While there can be little disagreement that there are local appropriations (Ger & Belk 1996, Friedman 1990) of global structures (Wilk 1996) this research project tries to take this down to the individual level: that global products and symbols can enter into the identity work and perform its role in personal life-projects. The point is not so much whether the particular objects have the same meaning for the consumer as for other consumers using the same product, but that it gets its meaning in and from a play of differences and differentiation in a micro-social context (Holt 1998, Bourdieu 1998).

Although the informants’ specific and ideographic identity work(s) is seemingly varied depending on context, locality and personal situation (Ziehe 1992), it is organized around the three fundamental dimensions of relations/positioning, time and space. That is consumption practices were related to informants’ life stories (Giddens 1991) in which past and present actions project onto imagined futures.

METHOD

The overall method was based on an ethnographic, qualitative approach. Since the research is an exploration of young people’s lifeworlds with specific reference to globalization and consumption, the methodology applied must be able to capture experiential aspects of the informant’s everyday life. As such the method lies within a phenomenological paradigm (Thompson et. al. 1989; Alvesson & Sk÷lberg 2000; Kvale 1996).

The research was conducted in two diverse localities of Denmark: central Copenhagen reflecting an urban environment with many consumption and leisure opportunities and a country high school (Svendborg) in the periphery ofthe country. In the latter, students come in from the countryside and smaller surrounding towns to the town of Svendborg to attend high school (e.g. from the islands of ¦r° and Langeland). This way of sampling was done in order to throw light upon centre/periphery (urban/rural) perspectives with regards to global consumer culture (Hannerz 1992). Both classes were in their second year of study (out of three) and all were 17 or 18 years old.

Data collection was carried out in three stages:

1) consumption diaries: all students of the classes were asked to keep a diary on consumption of money and time over a period of two weeks. Furthermore, they were asked to note what they dreamt about having/becoming; favorite clothing/clothing style; favorite music/style; and favorite food and drink. The diaries were used to improve pre-understanding of the informants’ life-world and consumption patterns and what was important to them in their everyday life. Furthermore, the diaries were used to identify informants for the next stages of the process. This was done in a way that gave as much variety as possible in consumption patterns within the informant group.

2) photographic life description: six informants from each high school class were given a disposable camera. The instructions were to take pictures of a week in their life. What they wanted to photograph was left open, but suggestions included taking pictures that 'tell who you are’ or 'reflect things of importance in your everyday life’. Furthermore, they were instructed that the motifs could be objects, persons, places and so on.

3) depth interviews: the interviews were structured in two parts. One using auto-driving where the informants were asked to put the photographs in an order that reflected what was most important to them and in a way that would describe them the best. The informants were then asked to talk about each picture. Second, were questions on favorite objects, most important objects as well as talking about being and becoming young both as experience of the process as well as linked to locality. Additionally, the informants were asked how they imagined it would be to be young in other places (e.g. the US).

This three-stage approach ensured a very rich and varied data material for each informant. Particularly the use of cameras as a visual technique allowed the informants to express themselves in a way which they might not otherwise have done (Belk 1998). Furthermore, the use of multiple data collection techniques provided multiple perspectives on the same phenomena, thus providing a richer description (Arnould 1998).

FINDINGS

Positioning in the local

The relational dimension of identity work is where the individual seeks positions of identity to occupy in relation to others and the representations of others (e.g. styles). This can be in relation to parents, peers, identity imagery drawn from the past or the future. It is important to note, however, that not all positions are possibleBthey depend on a number of personal and structural factors as to what is possibleBe.g. past and present social role, the nature and variety of the consumptionscape of the informants’ locality, the positions taken by others etc.

The practice of authenticity

Consumption objects and styles came out in the interviews as prevalent symbols and tools in handling personal identity in everyday life. What seemed predominant was that all informants considered themselves to be unique in some way, distancing themselves from what they considered mainstream, using consumption objects for "authenticating acts" (Arnould & Price 2000). Authenticating acts are carried out to create or maintain a conception or story of the selfBan ongoing in which the day-to-day activities and actions of the individual needs to be incorporated in the narrativeBor life storyBof the individual (Giddens 1991). This can be achieved among other things through the consumption of mass-produced, widely available commodities and images.

Stine (female age 17, from Copenhagen) is talking about the importance of being something special:

[...] I think everybody strives to be, like, themselves, right. And that’s also what some of these pop-girls are saying, that they are trying to create their own personality and so on. Then I just can’t help saying to them, like 'but you look just like the one standing over there’, right, 'so how can you be your self?¦, right. And then 'No, I just have this taste’ and so on. But I think it’s like not so much setting yourself apart, I think it’s more like showing yourself, right. And then obviously you get to stand out because no-one is the same.

I: So you think you stand out?

R: Yes, I would say so. At least from my class and uhm my school. I don’t think there are that many wearing my type of clothes. I have this really old denim jacket which my dad wore when he was young. There are definitely no-one else who has that one.

Stine explains that she would consider her style to be 'hippie’-like combined with mainstream and then goes on to mention a number of other styles which she finds expressive of either uniqueness or conformity. She finds her uniqueness in a historical context and positions herself within a style category in which second-hand clothes are highly valued. She mentions other consumption areas in which she finds herself to be unique (such as working with decoupage). The uniqueness she achieves, however, is in the micro-social world. As she explains in the quote above, her wearing her fathers’ old jacket sets her apart from her immediate Others. However, other people will be wearing, if not the same jacket, then at least clothes that belong to the same style paradigm. At the time of the interview with Stine a trend of 'vintage clothing’ was beginning to make inroads on the Danish and international fashion scene.

Navigating the landscape of styles

Another informant from Copenhagen emphasizes his uniqueness through affiliation with a subculture. Tim (male, age 17, Copenhagen) is committed to the Copenhagen hip-hop scene. Most of his money is spent on clothing, music and electronic equipment that enables his participation in this subculture. He is quite aware, however, of the other style positions that surrounds him:

In my surroundings I would say there areBthere’s the typical pop-girl [] tight trousers a bit wide at the legs and tight shirts so that the breasts almost jump in your face. That kind of look. That Britney Spears look. And then I guess there are the techno-types, you know, wide trousers with traffic-safe colours and so on. Who likes to party at In [a Copenhagen night-club well-known for it’s techno and drug scene]. And then there’s the typical pop-boy, a bit trendy how can I explain it maybe a tight t-shirt andBnice clothes but, well, maybe a knitted sweater with a zip and then the collar is hanging loose in some funny kind of way and the typical pop-trendy type. And yeah then I guess there’s skater-look. A bit like hip-hop it’s just, I would say, more earth-colours. Dark green and brown and so on. And the characteristic skater shoes [...]

These relatively elaborate descriptions and explanations of the style landscape are used in a mirroring process of identity work. Often it is a matter of explaining styles to which one does not belong and thus give meaning to one’s own position in the landscape.

Peripheral identities

My informants from the Copenhagen area had much more elaborate explanations of the variety of styles. The availability of styles is obviously much greater in a place like Copenhagen than it is in Svendborg and its region. Furthermore, the styles are something that is lived out and manifest in the metropolitan setting and therefore becomes something which enters into the individual’s lifeworld as something to buy into and to reject in the positional negotiation of identity.

In the peripheral areas, the accessibility to global resources is more restricted. Among the informants from Svendborg, accounts of subcultural styles were less prevalent and less elaborate. Two female informants from the Svendborg class both had peripheral identities in more than one sense. The obvious one was that they both lived on Langeland which is an island about 30-40 minutes drive away from Svendborg. The other one was that both identified themselves as "outsiders"Btheir self-perception was that they were quiet, not so popular girls in their class. Their self-identification as outsiders was expressed both in distancing themselves from the consumption patterns of the Others from the class (too much partying, too fashion-conscious) and in using consumption as ways of carving out positive identities for themselves. In both cases these identity strategies were carried out in their life outside school and, although in similar situations, the two used very different identity strategies:

Mie (female, age 18, from Rudk°bing, Langeland), constructs much of her identity as a negation from the Other (at school). Nevertheless, she has found a universe with which she can carry out positive identificationBshe has become a "computer nerd". Her favorite pastime is to play games on the computer and being on the internet and she gives elaborate technical explanations of the specifications of her new PC. The interest in computers was linked to a strong interest in Fantasy literature. In the following quote she is explaining how she minimizes her telephone bill for the internet by going off-line when reading Fantasy stories:

If there are some book series and then some fans who have written stories about it. Then I go off-line meanwhile. So it’s not as if I’m that much on the internet.

I: No. Hang on. There are some fans who write a story, is that what you’re saying?

R: Yes. With that book series as a theme, like. So you start off with something. Like the books I have over there, it’s a series called Dragon Lance. I’ve read a lot of those. It’s this Fantasy kind of thing. It’s just because you like writing. And often the stories are a lot better than ... than the real books because the authors are getting paid whereas the fans do it because they like it. So a lot of it is actually rather high quality.

She explains that she not only distances herself from the mainstream at her high school but also to the local youth culture on Langeland to which she does not aspire, thus rejecting local frameworks of identity.

The global technoscapes, cyberculture and consumer culture come together in a symbolic package for Mie. Buying into this universe justifies her role as an outsider in the local landscape of identity positions and gains a positive identity.

Cille (female, age 18, from Lindelse, Langeland), on the other hand, found her identity in quite a different place. She has moved to a small village on Langeland at the age of 16 from a major Danish city. She explains that her life in he city had been somewhat miserableBshe had had no friends, did not participate in any major way in social life with peers, her family had not had the money to enable her to follow the fashion-cycle of her peers and so on On Langeland, however, she has quickly teamed up with a boyfriend and now participates in local party culture on the Southern part of the island:

In Odense, I have to admit I was a bitBI’ve never been out on the town in Odense. Only once but I wasn’t that old either, so I was a bit outside in the class because they started when they were thirteen. I only started when I came down here and I was sixteen. So but down here it’s like once a month there’s a dance down there and you go there [] down in Bagenkop Sportscenter [] I came down here and went to tenth term and I got to know a few people. I only have contact with one of them now [] and she lives down in BagenkopBso we go to her place, get a few drinks and then we go to the sportcentre. Or out on the Parish Farm [local community house] there’s Christmas Dance and Easter Dance and so on.

The partys she is referring to above are characteristic of rural party culture in localities where there are no night clubs, bars or cafe’s. They’re occasional 'dances’ held a number of times a year. She has managed to find a position of identity in the local which is different from both youth culture in both the larger cities familiar to her.

Temporality

The temporal dimension comes into play as a way of defining possibilities of identity. Past identity and consumption can be used to reflect upon present life (as we saw in Cille’s case above) or present identity and consumption choices are used to imagine future directions. Present consumption was given meaning in relation to the past (childhood) in that one’s consumption pattern changes when becoming young. Says Stine (female age 17, Copenhagen) about the change of moving from childhood to becoming young:

Mmm, maybe it’s because you have to keep up, right, because you become more social and so on, so you have to keep up with the latest fashion, and you have to have the latest music and, and know it, like know about the latest trends and all that, right. And it all cost money and since you have to be different all the time you need new clothes and so on. And so, you have to buy even more than when you were running around home in the garden. You never bought any new clothes, right. Your mom took care of all that. So when you were kid you didn’t really consume anything except for maybe an ice-cream once in a while or something like that.

Becoming an independent consumer is one part of becoming young and what it means to be young. Typically, the informants had spare time jobs or were on state education grants which allowed them to gain their status as consumers.

Tim, who in a sense was the informant most devoted to a particular global consumption style, was also the most local of the informants in terms of spatial references. His participation in the local hip-hop scene, combined with his working in a "trendy" cafe in central Copenhagen, as used by Tim to provide him with some direction of his future. In the following quote he talks of himself and his closest friend setting up on their own in the future. They both work the same place and create music together in their spare time:

And that’s also why we want our own. Like and ad agency. We’ve talked a lot about that. Because there’s money in an ad agency if you’re able to run it well. And I have... I mean we both have a lot of contacts from Zoo Bar and I’ve worked for a photographer who made the Accept Card ads [Danish credit card ad campaign], and he’s made a lot for Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci and so onBand through him and his wife there’s a lot of contacts as well. [...] And then, with the visual thing, we’ve both painted graffiti at some pointBonly legally however [...] we could be standing there for eleven hours by some legal wall and just paint.

Tim’s contacts from his life in central Copenhagen together with his living the hip-hop culture come together in a symbolic universe that is constructed in the present but used for orientation towards the future. Here we find the global consumptionscapes of the advertising industry, international fashion and global hip-hop culture present and manifest in the locality in which Tim lives. The global thus provides symbolic resources for negotiating meaning about his present and future life in local everyday life.

Consumption practices involving both local and global fields of consumption are incorporated into the informants’ life stories. Due to the informants’ age and stage of life, narratives of the future (based on past and present experiences) were quite detailed and future plans seemed to be somewhat of a preoccupation to them. Their life stories are in the makingBeven more so than for individuals whose trajectory of life seems more certain (due to choices of education, career, spouse, locality of living). In the post-traditional order of late-modernity the future is not something one awaits but rather something which is constructed on the basis of one’s biography (Giddens 1991). The reflexive narration of identity is not just something the individual choosesBlife projects in late modernity are entrusted to the autonomous choices of the individual who has to gain identity for present purposes by imagining (constructing) possible futures (Melucci 1992).

Spatiality

Space, or localities, are used by the informants as signifiers in the articulation of their life projects (both lived and imagined). For some, like the case of Tim above, locality is almost a non-issue in that they have always been in the same locality and do not imagine moving away or do not reflect much on other localities. Again, the metropolitan/provincial dichotomy comes into play, since there were much more elaborate considerations of both past, present and future locations among informants from the rural school. Obviously, the lack of opportunities both education, job and consumption-wise in the provincial area is the driving force for these reflections over locality. It should be noted here, that all respondents are at the 'general’ form of high school which is considered to be a preparation for higher education. Therefore, the choice of further education is looming nearby and obviously evokes consideration on where to move and what it will be like.

When living in the periphery, one is exposed to the consumption opportunities of the center through the media and through interaction (such as going to school in a larger town). Hasse (age 18, living in Svendborg), coming from a small island talks about what it’s like to have moved to a bigger town for high school studies:

I: If you try to imagineBwhat would the difference be between being young on ¦r° and let’s say Svendborg?

R: Well the difference young, that must be our age the difference, like on ¦r° it’s like, when you want to go out it will be at a friend’s place or something. Here [in Svendborg] you go out to really go out. There are all these discos and so on. There are so many peple down here. In Svendborg, well I don’t know, but it must be one of the largest student towns in Denmark or something.

Svendborg, although having a relatively thriving student life compared to small places like ¦r° is far from being one of the major educational cities of Denmark. Hasse is, however, somewhat overwhelmed with the size of the town and the possibilities it offersBand immediately uses consumption opportunities as a basis of comparison.

Mobility in the local village

Cille, who, like two of my other respondents, has to go to her high school by bus every day, had taken a picture of the bus stop in her village. It takes about forty-five minutes each way. The bus comes once every hour during daytime and less frequently during evenings and weekends. Accessibility to Svendborg is therefore relatively poor and a lot of her spare time must be spent in the village or nearby villages. If she wants to spend time in Svendborg it will be after school or a well-planned trip in her spare time.

Living in the periphery means lack of immediate and spontaneous participation in many aspects of consumer culture. Says Kris, age 17, from a small village on Southern Langeland:

[...] something like the bus, you know, I know it seems banal but there is no bus to this place at three o’clock in the morning but it goes to Rudk°bing but it doesn’t continue to here. And there’s not a shop that you can go toBwell, there’s Kaj’s Grocery but it closes at six and is closed on Tuesdays. So if you sit here one evening you can’t just go around the corner to buy something. And it’s not as if we just order a pizza down here. We have to make do with a slice of ryebread. But that’ll do the trick of course. And if you want to go to one of your friends it’s quite far. So you get used to using your bike a lot. It’s a bit boring [here]. You’re very dependent on the busses and they go every hour and only every two hours on Sundays.

Horizons

Most of the informants spoke of going away from their present locality in the futureBprimarily in connection with education. However, again this idea of future mobility was more prevalent among informants from the provincial area in that there are few (if any) higher education possibilities available in that locality. This imagined future in another locality did not necessarily involve traveling outside the country. To many, the geographical horizon would be one of the major educational cities of Denmark for their more immediate future plans. For others, going abroad would be only temporarily before coming back to Denmark to start higher education.

For Mie, the participation in mediated internet culture and her abilities for drawing all come together in her career ambition:

My dream job must beBI would like to go to the USA and work at something called Industrial Light and Magic. It’s a company that makes computer animations and effects and so on. They are very famous. They’ve made everything fromBthey didn’t make TitanicBbut almost all other FX-movies, as they are called. They have made the new Star Wars movie too, and so on. It is said to be the best company in the world so if you could get in there then so I probably won’t. But still, it’s something of a dream job. To get in and thenBbecause I could combine my interest in computers and my interest in drawing.

Mie has drawn together various elements from global consumer culture, which gives her the possibility of positive identification. She is able to manage her local life and social role by defining herself into a niche of global consumptionscapes which is projected onto her future career trajectoryBone that is away from her present locality.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Above it has been discussed how global consumptionscapes, although reinterpreted and localized, are pervading the representations of possible identity positions for my informants. Apart from the day-to-day positional function of consumption, the consumption practices were reflexively understood by the informants in terms of a narration of life stories (Arnould & Price, 2000; Giddens 1991) organized around the dimensions of positions, time and space.

Furthermore, differences in the informants’ identity narratives were found along the center / periphery category. Those in the periphery provided more reflexive accounts of a variety of localities particularly in relation to future education and job considerations. Although some of my informants from the periphery did find niches of identity in local life suitable for immediateBor pastBpurposes, most did not find any viability in the local for their future. The metropolitan informants, however, did not show this concern and spoke less reflexively of future locations.

Ger & Belk acknowledge a "power imbalance" (1996; 271) although they end on a rather optimistic note in that the local appropriation, re-articulation, and resistance "insures that the consumption patterns of the Less Affluent World will not result in Western consumer culture writ globally". While the data from this study shows that global consumer culture is locally, and ideographically (re)articulated it is also important to highlight inequalities with regard to global consumptionscapes. In relation to the periphery-site of this study, one could say that the real power imbalance exists where the locality is eroded of local cultural frameworks and yet do not have access to (in terms of financial resources, economic development etc.) global consumer culture other than as a virtual, mediated representation of the world of Western consumer culture (Bauman 1998).

One could argue, therefore, that in certain localities global consumer culture becomes a viable alternative for identity construction while in other localities it remains largely latent since it is primarily only mediated. Therefore, the real tourists of this world, the real globals, are not only those who traverse the world in search for the next touristic thrill, the cosmopolitans (Hannerz 1996; Thompson & Tambyah 1999), but also those who have at hand (and by this I mean the means through which to obtain, i.e. a broad range of accessibility) manifest and materialized elements of global consumer culture.

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