Researching Young People as Consumers: Can and Should We Ask Them Why?

  • Steven Miles


We live at a time when the role of young people as consumers is apparently crucial to who it is they are. Social scientists and journalists are equally prone to speculate as to what it means to be a young person, and how being a young person is somehow symbolic of what it means to be at the cutting edge of social change. In this context, the question of consumption at least appears to be fundamental to young people’s lives at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In this chapter, I want to argue that consumption does indeed play a key role in young people’s lives, but not simply as a mode of self-expression or escape. An understanding of young people’s experience as consumers may indeed give youth researchers a unique insight into what it actually means to be a young person at a time of apparently rapid social change. In what follows, I will suggest that young people’s experience of consumption and their engagement with consumer culture presents the youth researcher with a particular set of challenges. If those challenges can be met, the benefits for youth research are potentially enormous.


Young People Young Person Consumer Culture Consumer Society Young Consumer 
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© Steven Miles 2003

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  • Steven Miles

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