Creating Meaning and Identity through Consumption

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Under the current capitalism society and material culture, people tend to form their identities through consumption, this means more than to consume products which are needed to survive, consumption can also link to self-identity formation and expression. People are imperceptibly influenced by the mass media that self-identity can be shaped and formed through consuming specific products. Therefore it can be said, fashion is an important element of identity formation. Young people are commonly feared of being seen as outdated and seek for acceptance from the peers and the society. According to Erikson’s theory of personal social and personal development adolescences and young adults see peers as a critical influence, acceptance of peers can lead to security of identity and self-esteem. This essay is going to examine how young people shape or form their identities through the consumption of fashion. Youths tend to shape their identity through different styles or ways of dressing, differentiate themselves from others and express their feeling or identity through fashion. Young people need more attention or acceptance from others comparing with people at other stages, as youths are experiencing a process of being adults. The formation of identity can be exemplified through fashion. Young people tend to establish their identities through the way they dress. As Hall,S (1997) stated, visible objects, like clothes may have a simple physical function, that is to cover the body and protect it from weather, however clothes also have a function which can double up as signs, which construct a meaning and carry a message. Fashion can also be a language that makes clothing possible become a self-communicative device at our disposal, plays a... ... middle of paper ... ...protecting it from weather. Youths may represent themselves with choices of fashion, maintain the acceptance from peers by dressing along with the fashion, differentiate themselves with stylish or luxury goods, and express themselves with preferences of clothing. The choices of young people may be affected by the trend, society, and the media. However, choices may also be a source of anxiety. For instance, that a function of advertising is to assuage the self-doubt that accompanies choice. Consumption would be a much less pleasurable practice if it was both subject to ever-expanding free choice and the decisions made were fundamental components of a reflexive process of identity-formation. Consumption may be anxiety-provoking for some groups; there is a real element of risk involved in choosing inappropriately. But there are many mechanisms that serve to compensate.

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