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An Examination of the Role and Relevance of the Home Economics Consumer Studies Section on the Consumer Behaviours of Junior Cycle Students

An Examination of the Role and Relevance of the Home Economics Consumer Studies Section on the Consumer Behaviours of Junior Cycle Students

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Breda O Mahony. Originally submitted for B.Ed- Home Economics and Religious Education at None, with lecturer Joanna Sweeney in the category of Teacher Education
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Breda O Mahony. Originally submitted for B.Ed- Home Economics and Religious Education at None, with lecturer Joanna Sweeney in the category of Teacher Education

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/11/2014

 
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 Abstract
The aim of this study is to investigate the relevance of the Home Economics syllabus inrelation to Junior Certificate learners. The objectives are clearly outlined asi.
 
To gain an understanding of the views of Home Economics students in relation tothe Consumer Studies sectionii.
 
To explore the impact of factors such as advertising, branding, peer influence onyoung adolescent personal care product purchases
iii.
 
To critically examine the Junior Cycle Home Economics Scientific and Socialsyllabus in relation to the relevance of content being taught in the ConsumerStudies section
 
Product branding has become ever- present in daily life. A study carried out in Finland byAhava and Palogoki (2004) in relation to adolescent perceptions on consumer education
revealed that adolescents believe that “real” consumerism does not begin until adulthood.
They believe that such consumer issues are not relevant to their own lives. However thiscan be disputed as Schor (2004) emphasises that children are growing older younger andcompanies have very clever strategies that they use to begin targeting their potential
market at a very early age. Children are attracted by clever advertisements as “creative”
strategies are used to promote foods e.g. play and fun (Consumers International, 1996).The rationale for this early marketing is that marketers are interested in youth as consumersbecause of their spending power, their purchasing influence, and as future adult consumers(Isaksen, & Roper, 2008). Wells (1997) further supports this by stating that consumer habitis learnt at a very early age. This presents a pedagogical challenge for the HomeEconomics Scientific and Social teacher.
 
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Home Economics teachers are required to provide learners with Consumer Education inorder to enable them to become more informed consumers.This research aims to investigate the role and relevance of the Consumer Studies section of Home Economics within a sample population. It examines how relevant the syllabus is andwhether it is useful to learners. The mission of Home Economics and Consumer Educationis indeed very broad but includes principles such as empowerment, equipping people withinformation in their lives now and in the future. In the case of this study, Home Economicsand Home Economists advocate informed consumerism. In this age of Consumerism anysyllabus must be up to date and able to reflect a fast changing consumer society. Given theextent to which young people are exposed to advertising in day to day life, it is thereforeessential that they are equipped to make informed decisions.This research examines adolescent consumer behaviours both before and after theConsumer studies section is taught to learners of Home Economics. The specific area of inquiry is narrowed down to buying behaviours related to personal care products in orderto generate easily comparable data.
 
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 Literature Review: Consumerism and Body Image
“A consumer is someone who spends (or has
the potential to spend) money on goods and
services for private use” (Consumer Strategy Group, 2005, p. 4). This illustrates that we
are all consumers. Arnett (2007) suggests that consumer culture is now predominant inIreland. He purports that as a religious influence on teenagers has diminished in recentyears they have become increasingly susceptible to the power of advertising as socialvalues are changing. The Central Statistics Office figures released from the Censes in 2011shows that there are 1,130,016 young people in Ireland under 19 years of age, comprising35% of the population. This suggests that manufactures of various brands will identity thiscohort as one of their target markets. Tovey and Share (2003) also note the development of a consumer culture in Ireland focuses on products that claim to enhance the body image.They also suggest that a heightened focus on cosmetics and fashion targets young peoplewho are attempting to forge their own identity.
 Adolescence, Identity and Body Image
“Ado
lescence is a time when most children begin to form a solid sense of identity, a fullersense of identity, a fuller sense of self awareness and greater feelings of 
confidence”
(Bukatko, 2008, p. 531). Adolescence occurs during the ages of 11 to 21 and is noted to beone of the most dynamic times during human development (Macionis and Plummer, 2005).
One of the dominant challenges for young adolescents is the idea of identity. “Identity is
about belonging, about what you have in common with some people and whatdi
fferentiates you from others” (Weeks,1991) (
as cited in Macionis and Plummer, 2005).Coplan and Killen (2011) supports the above understanding but underlines three keyconcepts which include self- concept, self esteem and self- efficacy. To some extentGiddens (2004) would expand on this idea as he argues that identity formation is carried

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