‘Life’s little luxuries’ - why consuming treats really does matter!   — ASN Events

 ‘Life’s little luxuries’ - why consuming treats really does matter!   (14191)

Juliana Mansvelt 1 , Mary Breheny 1 , Christine Stephens 1
  1. Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Most studies of luxury focus on the characteristics of the commodities consumed, or on the practices of wealthy consumers, however the role and functions of ‘little luxuries’ in life has been less well understood. Drawing on Sen’s capability framework, qualitative interviews were conducted with 143 people aged over 65 years across a variety of socioeconomic status, ethnic groups, and geographic locations across New Zealand/Aotearoa to understand the economic capability of individuals to have and do the things they valued in later life.  For many older people, control over one’s choices in everyday life is a significant part of ageing well.  Whether participants were wealthy or struggling financially, an ability to make choices around and partake in purchases of commodities or services constructed as treats or luxuries was valued as part of subjective wellbeing, providing both pleasure and reward.  Understanding luxury as socially constructed, rather than as an attribute of ‘expensive’ commodity purchases enables us to reflect on the how the exercise of choice directed towards pleasure and treats is important in shaping identity and wellbeing in later life, but also reveals how the moral shaping of purchase links to the wider constructions of value, worth and materialism.