The symbolic consumption of music
Although it is a widely accepted notion that music can be used as a tool to communicate symbolic meaning, very little is known about how and why people symbolically consume music. This thesis sought to provide a detailed insight into this phenomenon by building a model of the symbolic consumption of music. The objective of the model was to depict the relationship between the consumer's self-concept, the symbolic properties of music and the consumption context. Through the development of this model, the secondary objective of this thesis was also addressed. That is, to further our understanding of symbolic consumption as grounded in the theory of self-concept. A two phase, case study methodology was employed in order to fulfil the research objectives. Phase one of the research used an inductive case study research design to develop an initial model of the symbolic consumption of music. In this phase, three main data collection methods were used - in-depth interviews with consumers, personal interviews with experts in the field and subjective personal introspection. The initial model was based on both the existing literature and the primary research from phase one. Phase two utilised a replication case study methodology for the purpose of testing and refining the initial model. Two sources of evidence were used to develop twenty-two case summaries. These were personal in-depth interviews and participant diaries. The data analysis technique of 'pattern matching' was then used to test the initial model. The Model of the Symbolic Consumption of Music presented proposes that individuals will symbolically consume music when the image (meaning) of that music is congruent with the image of themselves that they wish to present. Situational factors are related to the processes involved, in particular the choice of self to present, the selection of music that is made from the individual's overall music tastes and the perceived level of congruency between the self and musical images. The symbolic self-presentation is communicated through consumption rituals enacted by the individual and feedback is retained for future decisions regarding musical preferences. The model is based on the self/brand image congruency model (Grubb and Grathwhol 1967), which has been extended in order to account for situational factors, a judgement of acceptability of the level of congruency and consumption rituals. Implications of the findings are presented for consumer behaviour with specific reference to the development of a general theory of symbolic consumption, methodology and marketing practitioners.
Advisor: Lawson, Rob; Todd, Sarah
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Marketing
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
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