Consumption in retirement: implications for environmentalsustainabilitySusan Venn and Kate BurninghamCentre for Environmen...
Outline ELiCiT project: Exploring lifestyle changes in transition Current and competing discourses on consumption inlate...
ELiCiT: Exploring lifestyle changesin transition ‘Moments of change’ hypothesis Explore aspects of continuity and change...
Sample: 80 people recruited from four locations London boroughs Accessible rural Scotland (Fife) Kent Lancashire town...
 Final interview - reflect on what they understand by ‘a sustainablelifestyle’ Degree to which their lifestyles can be c...
The ‘Boomers’ – competing discourses ‘Boomers’ (born 1946-1964) Cohort reaching retirement are unique Active in a ‘cult...
 Without reference or deference to futuregenerations Offering a niche market (grey consumers, silversurfers) Housing we...
 Politically, environmentally and culturally active Also known as the ‘Sandwich generation’ Caring - elderly relatives,...
 ‘Boomers’: Spending in retirement Avoiding consumptionCompeting discourses Two time bombs ‘Agequake’ Climate change...
 Time as a resource Before retirement Shopping more ad hoc, en route, time constrained Following retirement Shopping ...
 Requires skills and knowledge about shopping and cooking Bargain hunting within shop BOGOF, reduced goods section Bar...
 Growing own vegetables Batch baking and freezing (of bulk purchases) Using everything up, avoiding waste Recycling wa...
 Choices rooted in and explained through parental upbringing andvalues Not necessarily based on financial statusThrift/f...
 ‘Boomers’ situate themselves Between austerity and thrift/frugality of parents and ‘Time for me’, ‘spend’ now Is reve...
 Shopping embedded within household context and relationships Encompasses aspects of care Shopping as act of love (Mill...
Caring roles and identities - treat Influenced by changing household composition Treating Healthier food options OR unh...
Caring roles and identities - Gender Changing of traditional gendered roles following retirement Men became more engaged...
 Difficult to assess influence of thrift/frugality/caring insustainability terms Saving money to continue spending on gl...
Multiple cascading transitions Moving home Fluctuating retirement status Changing relationships Partners Broader fami...
 Shopping and cooking practices (mostly) change through transition toretirement Narratives reveal tensions between paren...
AcknowledgementsThis research is supported by :Defra (Department for Environment, Food and RuralAffairs)The Scottish Gover...
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Venn, Burningham - Consumption in Retirement - May 2013

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This presentation is seeking to contribute to the debates on the implications of an ageing population on the environment through an understanding of the everyday, but largely invisible and embedded, consumption practices of grocery shopping by ‘baby boomers’ as they move into and through retirement.

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Venn, Burningham - Consumption in Retirement - May 2013

  1. 1. Consumption in retirement: implications for environmentalsustainabilitySusan Venn and Kate BurninghamCentre for Environmental StrategyUniversity of SurreyGuildfordGU2 7XHwww.somnia.surrey.ac.uk
  2. 2. Outline ELiCiT project: Exploring lifestyle changes in transition Current and competing discourses on consumption inlater life – ‘baby boomers’ Explored through grocery shopping practices Thrift/frugality Caring roles and identities Potential environmental implications Conclusions
  3. 3. ELiCiT: Exploring lifestyle changesin transition ‘Moments of change’ hypothesis Explore aspects of continuity and change throughlifecourse transitions Becoming a first-time parent Retiring Explore expectations of changes to lifestyles Do considerations of sustainability inform anychanges Delineate assumptions about normal andappropriate retirement (and parenting)
  4. 4. Sample: 80 people recruited from four locations London boroughs Accessible rural Scotland (Fife) Kent Lancashire towns (Morecambe and Lancaster) 10 about to retire and 10 about to start a family in each location Different SEG/genderInterviews: Three semi-structured interviews Approximately 8 months between interviews. Exploring recent and current lifestyle, changes that take place, andreflections on aspects of changeMethods
  5. 5.  Final interview - reflect on what they understand by ‘a sustainablelifestyle’ Degree to which their lifestyles can be considered sustainable What are the influences on how they live and consumeDaily journals following each interview, 7 day reflective journal sent to respondent prior to follow up interviews to use as discussion pointQuestionnaires following first and final interview, lifestyle and values questionnaireMethods
  6. 6. The ‘Boomers’ – competing discourses ‘Boomers’ (born 1946-1964) Cohort reaching retirement are unique Active in a ‘cultural field’ shaped by Austerity of parents’ generation Exposure to consumerism of 1960/70s Increased job security and access to wealth Agentic and active ‘third age’ characterised by increasingconsumption“Over 60s plan to ‘spend, spend, spend’ during retirement – findssurvey by McCarthy & Stone Money” April 2013
  7. 7.  Without reference or deference to futuregenerations Offering a niche market (grey consumers, silversurfers) Housing wealth Consumer orientated, individualistic and less familyorientated Implications for the environment largely ignored Large carbon footprint (global travel/leisureactivities)The ‘Boomers’ – current rhetoric andcompeting discourses
  8. 8.  Politically, environmentally and culturally active Also known as the ‘Sandwich generation’ Caring - elderly relatives, children/grandchildren Largely unpaid Evidence for declining consumption in retirement Changes to shopping practices Refocusing of consumption to ‘others’ Engagement with community Criticisms ignore heterogeneity, and createintergenerational conflict 20% under 25 and over 65 in povertyThe ‘Boomers’ – current rhetoric andcompeting discourses
  9. 9.  ‘Boomers’: Spending in retirement Avoiding consumptionCompeting discourses Two time bombs ‘Agequake’ Climate change Explore through grocery shopping practicesAgeing and Environmental issues rarely intersect ‘boomers’ have highest carbon footprint Vulnerable/at risk to extreme weather conditions
  10. 10.  Time as a resource Before retirement Shopping more ad hoc, en route, time constrained Following retirement Shopping for bargains Carefully, judiciously and thriftilyChanging practices Shopping practices reveal enactment of Thrift = spending to save and saving to spend Frugality = ‘careful consumption and the avoidance of waste’ (Evans2009)Mr Average – me – will do what’s convenient, so I do the shopping either on the way backfrom golf with my list or I’ll do it on the way back from school.’ Derek
  11. 11.  Requires skills and knowledge about shopping and cooking Bargain hunting within shop BOGOF, reduced goods section Bargain hunting across shops Potentially leading to over buying/hoarding Enabling re-acquaintance with local shops and areaThrift – consuming more“I once had a cupboard full of toilet rolls because they were on a very goodoffer (laughter).” Theresa‘I’ve gone to the Co-Op, and because the Co-Op’s got a flyer, Utterly Butterly for a £1,Heinz tomato sauce is a £1, I’ve gone in there, spent about 3 or 4 quid. Then I’ve takenthe dogs to the park on the way from the Co-Op on the way home, and then I’ve goneoff to Lidl’s and I bought sugar, bacon, because they’re on the offers, and I’ve comeback, so today I spent about £9 but I got bag loads.’ Adrian
  12. 12.  Growing own vegetables Batch baking and freezing (of bulk purchases) Using everything up, avoiding waste Recycling wasteFrugality – avoiding waste‘we don’t waste stuff.. that’s the way we are’ Derek
  13. 13.  Choices rooted in and explained through parental upbringing andvalues Not necessarily based on financial statusThrift/frugality – parental values“I think that post-war era, being post-war babies – that had a lot ofinfluence on our parents and how they brought us up. You know, wastenot, want not, was the main sort of phrase in our household really youknow” Sally
  14. 14.  ‘Boomers’ situate themselves Between austerity and thrift/frugality of parents and ‘Time for me’, ‘spend’ now Is revealed in narratives But largely found parental values remain strongest even inface of transitions and competing demandsBridging identities (Leach et al)‘Kids are terrible consumers, they think nothing of spending money like[having] cake and coffee out’ Kenneth‘Save energy when you can – all the time. Try not to waste food – all thetime. Got my dad’s habit there, always leave an empty plate”’ Andrew
  15. 15.  Shopping embedded within household context and relationships Encompasses aspects of care Shopping as act of love (Miller 1998) Sentient activity (Mason 1996) Caring invokes competing moral rules (Finch and Mason 1993) Largely undertaken by women In terms of shopping is manifest in form of ‘treating’ ‘Moment’ of treat overrides desire to be thriftyCaring roles and identities“Morality in everyday life is constantly negotiated in relation to particularsituations, social conditions, the specific history of social relationships andin the context of other often competing moral claims and social norms”
  16. 16. Caring roles and identities - treat Influenced by changing household composition Treating Healthier food options OR unhealthy options Treats for other family members (returning children/grandchildren) Also treats for self (reward) At shops normally out of usual ‘repertoire’ , M&S, Waitrose‘We have got a Londis, they are quite cheap. But if I really fancy somethingnice to eat then I go up to Marks and Spencer’s’. (Grace)
  17. 17. Caring roles and identities - Gender Changing of traditional gendered roles following retirement Men became more engaged with shopping and cooking To demonstrate skills of bargain awareness and prices Treating Depends on power balance within couples Largely reflecting shifting domains of power withinhousehold – reasserting ‘work role’ since giving up working‘I suppose to a degree we’re saving a little bit because Im getting bargains,but then I see something that I think “oh [wife] would like that”, so I buy thatwhich I wouldn’t normally do or we wouldn’t normally have done.’ Jerry
  18. 18.  Difficult to assess influence of thrift/frugality/caring insustainability terms Saving money to continue spending on global travel Saving money to pass to children (generativity) Bargain shopping over and above needs - hoarding More time means longer distances travelled to find a bargain Shopping less overall, reduced meat consumption Shopping less overall at local shops Buying from local shops (Re)engagement with home baking and cooking (but includes unusualand non-seasonal produce)Contradictions and environmentalimplications
  19. 19. Multiple cascading transitions Moving home Fluctuating retirement status Changing relationships Partners Broader family and friendship relations Health issues Seasonality of interviews Recession All of which potentially ‘disrupt’ and influence everydaypractices
  20. 20.  Shopping and cooking practices (mostly) change through transition toretirement Narratives reveal tensions between parental upbringing and aspirations tospend/travel , but practices largely reflect upbringing Shopping takes place within a household context where caringresponsibilities significantly influence consumption choices Changes have both positive and negative environmental implications Changes also influenced by multiple transitions Questions single ‘moments of change’ hypothesis Retirement itself is a fluid and long lasting transition Given that, sustainability of any positive changes are unclear….Conclusions
  21. 21. AcknowledgementsThis research is supported by :Defra (Department for Environment, Food and RuralAffairs)The Scottish GovernmentThe ESRC (Economics and Social Research Council)July 2010 - August 2013s.venn@surrey.ac.uk

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