A framework to understand how Baby Boomers socially construct online shopping ideologies in relation to ageing identity

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Populations are ageing. Despite this, there is relatively little research concerning ageing consumers and online shopping. Online shopping revenues are growing in the UK, and the ageing Baby Boomer cohort (born between 1945-1965) represents a valuable segment of online consumers who do not conform to stereotypes of ageing consumers as anxious adopters of technology. There is a need to better understand ageing Baby Boomers as online consumers.
This thesis adopts a social constructionist perspective of ageing as a multi-dimensional process of biological, psychological and social changes, shaped by socio-historic contexts across the lifecourse. In-depth interviews and observations are conducted with thirty-one Baby Boomers in the UK. Using a grounded theory approach, an original framework is developed to understand how Baby Boomers socially construct online shopping ideologies in relation to ageing identity. The framework consists of three key theoretical categories: ageing identity, consumption ideologies, and technology ideologies. Each of these categories relates to the other. Ageing identity influences interpretations of technology and consumption, and likewise interpretations of technology and consumption ideologies influence how Baby Boomers construct ageing identity. he findings reveal that interactions with online shopping technologies can influence ageing identity in different ways. Interactions can either make participants feel older, particularly when encountering difficulties in using online shopping websites, or reinforce a more youthful self-concept in ‘staying young’ by keeping up with technology.
This thesis makes an original contribution by developing an understanding of how Baby Boomers construct online shopping ideologies in relation to socio-historic contexts and ageing identity, examining how online shopping experiences shape social constructions of ageing identity. This research reveals how improving the design of online retail environments can positively influence social constructions of ageing identity. Accommodating the needs of ageing consumers in online shopping environments can help Baby Boomers maintain independence as they age.
Date of AwardJul 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorLillian Clark (Supervisor) & Colin Wheeler (Supervisor)

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