Narratives of Grandparental Consumption

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Pinni A building, Paavo Koli auditorium, address: Kanslerinrinne 1.

Anne Kastarinen

Doctoral defence of M.Sc. (Econ. & Bus. Adm.) Anne Kastarinen

Narratives of Grandparental Consumption

The field of science of the dissertation is Marketing.

The opponent is professor Anu Valtonen (University of Lapland). Professor Hannu Kuusela acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is Finnish.

Building grandparenthood through consumption

For modern grandparents, consumption is a concrete and understandable way of actualising a distinctive form of grandparenthood from the outset. By utilising consumption, a grandparent can stand out from the rest, show belongingness, take care of others, and leave their mark on the next generation.

In this doctoral thesis, grandparenthood-related consumption appears as a colourful part of every occasion, and above all as a way of spending time with grandchildren and creating shared memories. The thesis does not support the concept of grandparents as inexhaustible toy dispensers who pamper children – instead, the grandparents studied favoured shared experiences and lasting gifts that are useful and educational. Baking days and nature expeditions are still part of today’s grandparenthood, but alongside them grandparents and grandchildren also travel together, attend cultural events, go shopping, and keep in touch using the opportunities afforded by new technology.

This doctoral thesis examines grandparents’ consumer behaviour from many perspectives, debunking preconceptions about grandparenthood and providing fresh insight for businesses into both families’ consumer behaviour and this significant, changing and heterogeneous consumer group.

It analyses the role of consumption in building a grandparent’s identity in light of the meanings of consumption. Consumption associated with buying things for or spending time with grandchildren gives grandparents an opportunity to teach new skills, pave the way, feel important, re-live their youth, and maintain and create traditions.

The research data, which was created from narrative interviews, reveals a form of generative consumption associated with promoting the wellbeing of younger generations for either altruistic or selfish reasons. In the grandparents’ accounts, this generative consumption manifests itself as care for family and the community, and as an attempt to leave their own mark on the world.

Grandparenthood is held to be one of life’s most desired roles, but it also involves conflicts, tensions and power relations. Unburdened by official rights and obligations, grandparents have the freedom to actualise their role in any way they wish, yet this freedom is restricted by culturally traditional concepts of age, preconceptions, and norms. This doctoral thesis also provides up-to-date information about grandparenthood for grandparents themselves.


The dissertation is published in the publication series of Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 2322, Tampere University Press, Tampere 2017. The dissertation is also published in the e-series Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis; 1826, Tampere University Press 2017.

The dissertation can be ordered at: Juvenes e-bookstore or by e-mail:

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