Family Time in Consumer Culture: Implications for Transformative Consumer Research
Across numerous interviews with multiple members and generations of families, across contexts that include children’s a" er-school activities such as soccer and family activities such as dinners, holidays, and vacations, and across family objects and spaces such as homes, farms, food, heirlooms, and technologies, we hear again and again the importance of time with family. However, we also hear how despite the idealized status and presumed centrality to the real meaning of life, family time easily gives way, displaced by minor obstacles, individual projects, and daily demands. Family time is o" en measured and written about quite literally as time spent when the family is copresent, meaning when multiple family members are together (Bianchi, Robinson, & Milkie, 2006). # ere has been much debate about whether family time has increased or decreased over the past decades and how it is socioeconomically and culturally distributed (Mestdag & Vandeweyer, 2005). However, our own and other research has suggested that for families, not all time together counts as family time, and what counts varies by class and culture (DeVault, 2000; Kremer-Sadlick, Fatigante, & Fasulo, 2008). When family members talk about scarcity, they are concerned with not just copresence but also the quality of time together, and this idea is a “major organizing principle across as well as within all modern societies” (Gillis, 2001, p. 22).