Blogs as navigation platforms: A study of narrative directionality in the identity construction process of the contemporary consumer

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Purpose of the study: The purpose of this study is to examine how contemporary consumers construct and communicate their identities through narratives and how they reflect their identity through narratives on blog consumption experiences. Ultimately, this study aims to shed light on how consumers draw from blogs and to examine whether blogs can be used in identity construction processes. It is argued that, ultimately, blogs serve as navigational platforms for consumers' story-telling activities, there-by performing an instrumental role in the constructing of meaningful, but continuously transform-ing selves. Understanding how this process of identity formation unfolds hermeneutically through narration is the essence this research. Methodology: This research was conducted using life story and phenomenological interviews while blogosphere was selected as the context for the latter because of the fascinating way it portrays the lives of con-temporary consumers. Altogether five sets of interviews were conducted and two sharply con-trasting cases selected for further analysis. The interviews were analyzed according to the princi-ples of the hermeneutic approach. The interviewee's biographic narrative was first broken down into a life story. Then, the life story was analyzed in detail in order to form a perception of the in-terviewee's identity. After completing these two steps, the results were enriched with the data from the phenomenological interview in order to analyze the interviewee's reflections on blog consump-tion with respect to the findings of identity construction. Findings: The existential and ontological uncertainty of the postmodern era drives the individual to seek stability, which can be imposed through direction and purpose in life. Having clear end-goals func-tion as guiding lines for the individual who strives to choose the right path and navigate through the surrounding chaos in life. For the contemporary consumer, narratives are means to make sense of the world that is in a constant flux. The young adults interviewed in this study do not have very clear or stable end-goals in their lives yet, hence, with the myriad of options at hand it is chal-lenging for them to choose the right direction in life. The findings of this study show how the in-formants utilize blogs as navigation platforms, aiding in choosing or avoiding certain directions in their lives. The informants reflect on the phenomena they see in blogs and mirror their own lives and lifestyles to what they see in the blogosphere. This study suggests blogs to function as a fast track, providing ready-made examples of possible selves and future direction for the consumer to safely explore behind the veil of anonymity.
Narrative, narrative directionality, identity construction, life story, social media, blog, navigation platform, consumption, consumer behaviour, redemption and contamination
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