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A qualitative study of self-identity and cultural ideals impact on Swedish females within Gen Z’s purchase behavior

Written by Cecilia Menninge, Julia Bengtsson

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Business Administration>General




Bachelor Thesis: The concept of self-identity In the past, identity was not only an attribute of the identified object, but also an expression of interest in the identified object (Gabriel and Lang, 2015). Dittmar defines identity as a subjective concept, that is, a person owns him or herself (Dittmar, 2011). On the other hand, McNeill pointed out that the development of a person’s self-identity is parallel to the development of a person’s social identity, because an individual’s self-identity is verified through social interaction (McNeil, 2019). At the same time, Markus and Wurf (1987) claimed that identity is the self-image that individuals try to convey to others. Gabriel and Lang (2015) believe that identity is subjective and therefore a constantly changing, unstable and problematic entity. Gabriel pointed out that creating an image in which one can appreciate oneself and gain respect from important others through this image is what the concept of identity involves. Identity is not only a story about who we are, but also a fantasy of who we want to be (Gabriel, 2000). On the other hand, Tice et al. claim that self-concept includes a person’s self-expression and specific aspects of the self that the individual wishes to control and portray (Tice et al., 1995). Tice claimed that self-expression is a process by which people negotiate their identity in the social world, with the purpose of making others think that they have certain characteristics and qualities that they would like to have (Tice et al., 1995). Leary and Kowalski pointed out that self-expression is a means for individuals to develop their identity by participating in specific public behaviors. This shows that “has identity-related characteristics” (Leary and Kowalski, 1990). Belk claims that an important part of self-awareness is property, because individuals can use personally consumed property to "learn, define, and remind" themselves (Belk 1988). In modern consumption, people claim to have a very high degree of identity for material items. Therefore, fashion can be regarded as a tool that people use to symbolically expand themselves through consumption confirmation and existence. Perceiving him or her (Solomon and Schopler, 1982) The public's self-awareness may be related to deciding what clothes to wear. Some people can be regarded as "highly self-monitored." People with high self-monitoring control and monitor their self-image very consciously to convey the ideal image (DePaulo, 1992). The "low self-monitoring" is the opposite. They don't care much about the impression they express to others by choosing clothes (DePaulo, 1992). 2.1.2 Symbols of personal and social identities Humans use symbols when they are related to each other and the world (Dittmar, 2011). A symbol is defined as an entity that represents another entity, and it has meaning only when people reach a consensus and give the symbol reality. In addition, a symbol can only be effective when other individual groups or subcultures or societies have the same understanding of the symbol. There is a clear statement that property is a symbolic part of personal status and is important for maintaining the psychological integrity of the owner (Dittmar, 2011). Gabriel and Lang agree with Dittmar, stating that the qualities of material objects and their past history are transferred to their holders (2015). Symbolic self-completion is the notion that people use material symbols to support or enhance all aspects of their identity (Dittmar, 2011). It recommends that individuals use material wealth to make up for the deficiencies in their self-concepts. Material symbols have the characteristics of creating and enhancing identity due to their strong communication ability (Dittmar, 2011). People can get closer to their ideal concept of themselves through symbolic self-completion. Consumers use material goods in an opportunistic and highly visible way because they are very aware of the inferences others will draw from them, and because their image will be affected by material goods (Gabriel and Lang, 2015). This is an example of a young man wearing a black leather motorcycle suit, which is recognized as a male symbol. He can use this masculine symbol to make up for the lack of masculinity, and by using this object to tell himself and others that he is indeed masculine. This shows that there is a bridge between the actual self and the ideal self (Dittmar, 2011). Therefore, the core of consumption is the importance of constructing a personal style and a convincing self-image (Gabriel and Lang, 2015). 2.1.3 The complex structure of the self-concept Self-concept consists of a person’s beliefs about her attributes and how she evaluates these qualities. A person’s overall self-concept may be positive, but some parts are more positive than others. For example, compared with female status, women feel better about their professional status (Solomon, Robolt, 2009). Mittal points out in a different way from Solomon and Robert that self-concept refers to the characteristics that people give to themselves. It can be handsome, caring, wealthy, successful doctors and competitive qualities (Mittal, 2015). Self-concept is a complex structure, and scholars have analyzed it in different ways using different terms. Self-concept can be used interchangeably with the following terms: self-as-process, self-cognition or self-image, social comparison, or self-evaluation. Read Less