1. Literature review
The aim of this dissertation is to understand how vegans became socialized into veganism. In this literature review I will go onto details about five topics, the first one being the socialization of children from early years of life through learning process, after then the consumer socialization will be explored in terms of what and who influences the learning of consumer skills. Following that, I will look at food socialization to understand what and who influences the food choices of consumers to finally talk about what has be researched on the socialization into vegetarianism and veganism.
Looking at the socialization allows to understand the cognitive development and learning process that children go through since their birth that will influence their choices in life and way of thinking.
Piaget and Vygotsky both did research to understand the cognitive development of the child; their perspectives and point of views however differed from each other over some aspects.
Vygostky thought of the child as someone being social from the beginning of its life but not socialized yet. He also thought that a child is open to the world in comparison to Piaget (1923, 1959) who believed that a child is a rather egocentric being with similar functioning as adults. Vygotsky (1978, 1986, 1999) believed that thoughts and language go together and viewed egocentric language in children as a way to structure internal language, in other words thoughts. On the other hand, for Piaget, thought is followed by language.
One of Vygotsky’s theory (1978) explains that the more knowledgeable others have an important role in the cognitive development of a child, most of the time these people are parents, teachers or coaches helping the child completing tasks through learning experiences until the child can perform them independently. He believes that the cognitive development of a child is helped through social interactions; it can also be between the child and the knowledgeable others through sharing experiences and teaching problem solving skills. Piaget (1958) however thinks that skills to solve problems cannot be taught but must be discovered. Vygotsky also talks about the zone of proximal development where the child is almost but not yet totally able to complete a task or solve a problem independently without any supervision or help; he thinks that learning occurs during this process. Unlike Piaget who did not consider culture and social interactions in relation to cognitive development, Vygotsky insists on the fact that education and learning processes of a child are affected by social environment such as the cultures, societies and subcultures surrounding the child during the development. He explains that due to sociocultural differences, development is different from one child to the other. Children learn written and spoken language from social interactions, culture and society which help them to construct and organize thoughts that will allow them to express and communicate their needs. As the child develops, its personality will appear and develop as well allowing it to have an individual identity, then its needs will start to change, and the awareness of new needs and social roles start to grow. While Piaget thinks that development is followed by social learning, Vygotsky believes that social learning is followed by development and that functions of a child’s development are first social (inter-psychological) and only then individual (intra-psychological).
Although many authors focused on child socialization, some have studied further on the subject considering socialization as a lifelong process. Settersten (2002) explains that adults change over the years as well as their needs, wants and socialization experiences. In consequence, adults need to continually re-socialize themselves along their life. He talks about the social situation and environment during different age and life periods such as work, family and friends, any change occurring to these can influence the socialization of human beings over a life course. He also insists on the socialization experiences that adults live through different periods of their life, socialization is therefore reconsidered.
As it has been previously mentioned, the more knowledgeable others such as parents and teachers have an impactful importance on the learning process and cognitive development of a child, however, a child can also be useful in the socialization of adults, it is known as reverse socialization.
Ekström (2007) explains that with the fast changes of technologies and information sharing, children can faster adapt to these changes and know more about it than adults such as the parents would. Then a reverse socialization occurs where the children may advise and help older people re-socialized themselves as well as for completing tasks until they can do it independently.
1.2. Consumer socialization
Studying consumer socialization is important in terms of understanding the process that children and young adults go through to obtain the knowledge, skills and behaviour needed as a consumer in a society. It allows to understand the learning process of purchasing and consuming activities of consumers to be. According to Moschis et al (1978) and Roedder John (1999), there are four agents of consumer socialization: mass media, school, parents and peers.
1.2.1. Primary socialization
Moschis et al explains that parents give the basic rational norms of consumption to children such as how to use money, paying for a service or a product, the process of doing so and other basic information. Roedder John emphasizes that it is made through family social interactions and communication more than the intentions of parents to teach children. However, Ward and Wackman (1974) and Moschis et al (1984) goes farther by adding that children learn the price-quality relationships of products and services from their parents through communication and observation, nonetheless these can be very subjective depending on the parents’ opinions of a good price-quality relation.
1.2.2. Secondary socialization
However, Moschis and Moore (1979) found that as a child grows, it will look for its peers than its parents for consumption learning. Once again, social interaction and communication with peers allow the child to develop its knowledge on consumption (Roedder John 1999). Moschis et al (1978) and Parsons et al (1953) add that interactions with peers help a child to learn about expressive consumption elements such as symbolism, materialism, value and social motivations. Multiple researchers (Moschis et al, 1978; Moschis and Moore, 1979) agree that peers play a big role in a child buying decision making and products preferences. Peer pressure influence children and young consumers to buy from popular brands to be part of a given group (Dotson and Hyatt, 1994).
Ward (1974) talks about the role of TV and mass media such as advertising for observation learning of the child, according to him, advertisings help children to learn to better identify and evaluate the intentions and messages shared through these advertisings but also to discover how promotions of products occur. For Roedder John (1999) and Goldberg et al (1974), advertisings on TV influence children’s products decision making and preferences through communicating products content but also through their exposure to brands and promotion of these brands (Dotson and Hyatt, 2005). Due to this exposure, watching television will increase the adolescents’ wants for conspicuous consumption and social purchases (Shim, 1996; Moschis and Moore, 1982). For Wells (1997), advertising programming help to understand consumer behaviours such as what kind of people use the different products on the market and how they use them which reinforce the facts stated above on the influence of ads on product choice and preferences. However, Bandura (1971) and Parsons et al (1953) see the role of mass media in a different way, they believe that TV advertising help children to learn the eincrxpression consumption elements. Moschis et al’s (1978) findings are not only in accordance with these last two researches, but they also add that the more the child watches television and advertisings, the more consumer skills it will learn, however it depends on the use the child makes of the television watching, it is especially relevant when talking about commercial content. Moschis and Moore (1979) insist on the fact that teenagers will consider products information they see on TV and media more if it is of low involvement and little risk, but if it is a risky high involvement purchase decision, they will turn more personal sources such as peers or family to get product information.
Other than parents, peers and mass media; school and therefore education is an important agent of consumer socialization. Gavian and Nanassy (1955) mention that school allows children and teenagers to develop economic competence and learn consumer skills such as consumer problems, money management, economic attitudes, use of money and how communities earns money. Consumer education at school also have other benefices such as developing critical thinking and improve self-confidence (Knapp, 1991). However, for some researchers (Moore et al, 1975, 1976; Moschis et al, 1978; Moschis, 1979), consumer education at school has little or no relation with the development of a child’s consumer knowledge and skills, they believe that school courses lack information that are useful to learn about the role of consumers but also doubt on children’s willingness to learn about them and on teachers’ abilities to teach them.
1.3. Food socialization
A person’s decision making for food consumption is a lifelong process that can change over time has someone grows from being a child to the later stages of life. It has been previously explained that children learn consumer behaviours from more knowledgeable others such as parents, peers, mass media and school but also that they are socialized and influenced by culture, society and subculture they are surrounding by. It has also been mentioned that personality will influence learning and therefore decision making. These statements can be applied to food socialization in order to understand what and who influence food consumption decision making of someone over its life course.
1.3.1. Primary socialization
Parents are a major influence on the child’s decision making of food consumption (Larson and Story, 2009). The parents’ food preferences and choice, lifestyle rituals, eating behaviour, meal patterns, nutrition concerns but also their cultural and religious practices will influence the child from its childhood (Neumark-Sztainer et al, 1999). All these factors influenced the type of food the child has been familiarized with since its childhood which might exclude several different food types that the parents do not use or like to consume. Jago et al (2007) and Kratt et al (2000) found in their researches that the availability of food option in the house such as fruits and vegetables increase the intake of these products for children but also parents which indicates the importance of parents’ food purchase in the food consumption of the child and habits. Neumark-Sztainer et al add that rituals, habits and meal patterns such as the time availability of parents are very influential, for example parents might choose food convenience by avoiding cooking for their family and buy ready to eat food or consume from fast food restaurants as it is easy and quick; or they might cook everything themselves privileging quality of food and be health conscious. This sets of patterns and habits might be recreated by the child once it will be independent from its parents as it is the habits they knew from their childhood, Larson and Story (2009)’s review paper is in accordance with these sayings adding that parents are models for eating behaviour. Arcan et al’s (2007) findings show that parents continue to influence the food consumption of their child during teenage years and young adulthood.
In terms of reverse socialization, Ekström (2007) mentions that parents can learn from the child as children have an influence on their family consumption decision making, it is particularly true for food consumption choices as the child starts to affirm its food preferences when growing up.
1.3.2. Secondary socialization
Larson and Story (2009) mention that other than family, other agents are influential on food socialization and consumption such as colleagues, peers and friends. In the researches of Contento et al (2006) and McGee et al (2008), children, adolescents and adults declare that friends and peers’ behaviours and encouragements influence their food choices. Larson and Story (2009) add that social attitudes and norms amongst a group during meals influence but also pressure the food choice of children, adolescents and adults as consumers try to be accepted and part of a group. This is in accordance with Nestle et al (1998) research that talks about peer pressure influence on food choice and particularly toward high fat foods. In addition, Cullen et al (2001) found that friends were an influence to make unhealthy food choice and that eating vegetables could generate bad comments from the peers to the child. On a contrary note, the study of Rasmussen et al (2006) found the opposite fact, saying that friends’ intake of vegetables and fruits influenced children and adolescents to consume more of them. An interesting study of Herman et al (2003) shows that young adults and adults have a tendency of eat bigger portions of food when they have a meal with close friends than when they are alone. Larson and Story (2009) commented Herman et al (2003)’s study by adding that this way of behaving is called social facilitation of eating, and that consumers might be influenced by the portions of their friends and use them as indicators of normal and appropriate portions.
Larson and Story (2009) talk about the culture as the shared values and beliefs of a society but also mentions language, religious beliefs among the culture and social relationships; according to them, culture shapes how consumers perceive food. Culture also shapes how consumers behave, perceive the world and interact with each other (Institute of Medicine, 2002), all of these cultural aspects are transmitted between generations.
Chiva (1979) mentions as well that eating behaviours are influenced by the social and cultural context surrounding the consumers. He adds that people’s conditioning and constraints given by society and culture in the food consumption from their childhood and over their life course shaped not only their development but also their food choice. According to him, it allows people to express themselves as individuals but also as part of a given group. Fischler (1979) adds that social and cultural patterns influence consumers to make food choices that are not the healthiest option for their body and that it disturbs the natural instinct of humans to choose the best option for health. Moreover, he explains depending on cultures, there is patterns for traditions and rituals on how and when to consumer food and what type of food such as olive oil being often consumed and cooked a certain way with specific food in the Mediterranean cuisine.
Religions are also mentioned by Fischler as part of the culture and traditions aspects. He adds that for each country and cultures, one or multiple religions will be predominant which can influence the religious choices and practices of families and the next generations (children); these influenced religious choices will on their turn influence the food consumption of these families and therefore of the children among them. In accordance with the previous facts, the paper of Assadi (2003) mentions that religions influence the rituals, traditions and food choices of consumers over their life course by imposing some restrictions, limitations and prohibitions in the type of food consumption and its practices such as Muslims not eating pork or drinking alcohol.
Media such as internet and TV watching influence children, adolescents but also adults on their food consumption decision making, seeing what people consume on cartoons, movies, TV shows or the advertisings promoting food products (Neumark-Sztainer et al, 1999; Brown et al, 2017). Indeed, the studies of Marquis et al (2002) and Borzekowski and Robinson (2001), children have the tendency of purchasing and consuming the food that they have seen on TV advertisements. The act of seeing people on TV consuming certain type of food or what food is promoting on advertisings, children and teenagers tend to imitate it and consume the same food to feel part of a community, a social group not to feel excluded. It can either influence it in terms of healthy food but also encourage to eat unhealthy such as fast food commercials. Indeed, Goldberg et al (1978) and Boyland and Halford (2013) studies found that the food choice preferences of children who watch children-targeted TV advertisements are being influenced by these ads to choose more unhealthy foods such as highly salted, high carbohydrate, high fat and high level of sugar foods than children not exposed to these advertisements. However, the study of Beaudoin et al (2007) have the opposite findings; the results indicate that TV advertisings promoting healthy food have a positive impact and influence on the food consumption of children.
Internet and TV allow older children, tweens, teenagers and young adults to follow the life of celebrities they like and therefore have a more personal look on their food consumption and lifestyle through celebrity endorsements which in turn appeal these consumers and influence their own food choice (Erdogan, 1999; Institute of Medicine, 2005; Committee on Communications, 2006). Adolescents and young adults tend to compare themselves to the persons they see on internet or on TV which encourage them to consume certain type and amount of food that they believe will allow them to achieve a similar look (Anschutz et al, 2008).
1.4. Consumer socialization into vegetarianism
Few academic papers such as Ruby (2012) mentions give a definition of what a vegetarian is, according to these, it is “someone who does not eat red meat, poultry, or fish”, however, information lacks in this definition. The Vegetarian Society (2018) has a more complete and accurate of what is a vegetarian, according to them, a vegetarian is “someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, algae, yeast and/or some other non-animal-based foods (e.g. salt) with, or without, dairy products, honey and/or eggs. A vegetarian does not eat foods that consist of, or have been produced with the aid of products consisting of or created from, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, insects, by-products of slaughter or any food made with processing aids created from these”.
We know from the previous section that agents such as family, peers, friends, media, society, culture and religion influence a consumer lifestyle over its life course; from its birth to its death. Kleine and Hubbert (1993) explains that media has increased its discussion on environmental and animal rights issues; on books, magazines, articles, internet and TV are displayed the advantages and disadvantages for consumers health to stop eating meat. Many products such as books, cookbooks, DVDs are dedicated to vegetarianism which increase the awareness of its existence and can attract some consumers to learn more about it. In their research, Kleine and Hubbert (1993) found that the 8 persons they interviewed got socialized into vegetarianism either by media such as articles related to it, movies, books that teach about animal suffering and the meat industry, family members and peers that were vegetarians, and finally the experiences they had related to meat and animals. All of these helped them to learn what was vegetarianism and influenced their decision making into the diet and lifestyle. The study of Santos and Booth (1996) particularly found that vegetarians were socialized by the influence of their friends, the other agents cited previously were not mentioned in this study. Sometimes, religions are the source of socialization for becoming vegetarian such as some Buddhism groups who are not eating meat and are being vegetarian following their religious beliefs of what the Buddha suggests (Fraser, 2003).
1.5. Consumer socialization into veganism
According to Larsson et al (2003), vegans are “the most extreme type of vegetarians eating only plant foods and no animal products whatsoever”. Cherry (2006) also defines vegan as “strict vegetarians who, in addition to not eating meat, fish, or fowl, also do not consume any animal products such as dairy and eggs”. Both of these definitions are lacking information as they only mention the food consumption of vegans and not the lifestyle including use of products. The definition of veganism by The Vegan Society (2018) can be believed as the most accurate one, it defines veganism as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”.
The concept of veganism is relatively new, compared to the one of vegetarianism, some researches have studied the topic under various ways, such as the reasons why consumers became vegan, health, personal tastes, ethics, moral, environment and religion are the main results of these studies.
No research to this day has been fully dedicated on understanding the influences and socialization of vegans into veganism. Two studies have briefly researched on it as part as their study, but it was not their main focus. The first study was made by Larsson et al (2003) that researched on the process of becoming vegan among adolescents in Sweden including the influences, the reasons they did, the after becoming vegan such as habits and lifestyle. The socialization of vegans in veganism in this study has a little part and importance in the research, some information can be related to our topic during the influence part of becoming vegan but nothing or few is directly linked to socialization itself. Moreover, it is specifically talking about results from adolescents in Sweden which is very specific to one country. The second study is the one of McDonald (2000) who researched on how consumers learn to become vegan. The study is made with 12 adults between the age of 23 and 85 years old, no gender is excluded, and no country seem to be specifically targeted for the study although she selected the participants in Washington DC in the United States of America. Once again, the socialization part of vegans is only a small portion of the study interests. The results of this study seem to show that media such as article, videos, TV is what socialized vegans into veganism.
As the topic of this dissertation has not been the subject of a full research on this own, and that researches that relate with it were targeting or on a specific country or a specific age group, it can be explored as a full research topic on itself for other countries with other target consumers whether it is gender or age group.
The aim of this research was to understand how vegans became socialized into veganism. The objectives were focused on understanding the impact of primary and secondary agents on the socialization of vegans into veganism. The primary socialization being family and parents, and the secondary socialization being agents such peers, friends, media, school, work environment. By the end of the research, recommendations can be given to marketers who are trying to broaden their understanding of the socialization of vegans into veganism in order to improve their marketing approaches and attract more vegans or potential vegans into buying their products.
2.1. Research philosophy
2.1.1. Ontology and Epistemology
According to Bryman and Bell (2011), ontological questions are concerned with the nature of social entity and social phenomena are made through social interactions; ontology is the beliefs about reality and truth, what is believed to be true will shape the beliefs about reality. For this research, the constructivist approach was used believing that the world is social constructivist and that the truth and its meaning are subjective depending on individuals and their experiences. It is assumed that there is not just one truth and that there are multiple versions of reality. Reality is linked to context of individuals which implies that it cannot be generalized but only can be compared to similar contexts. In this approach, reality is created depending on individuals’ perspective, therefore, truth continually evolves and changes through experiences then truth needs to be revised. As the subject of this dissertation relied on vegans’ experiences and their individual perspectives, using a constructivist approach was essential as it allowed multiples truths and realities to be researched and discovered. That leads to the next important approach which is epistemology.
Epistemology, contrarily to ontology, tries to understand how knowledge and truth are found (Bryman and Bell, 2011). For this dissertation, an interpretivist approach was used to go in harmony with the constructivist approach of ontology. Interpretivism allowed this study to acquire knowledge such as relative meanings of truth and multiples realities for each individual and this is done through social constructions and interactions. These interactions between the participants and the researcher, using a subjective approach, were needed to learn about stories and experiences in order to discover different perspectives of truth on the researched topic. Following Saunders et al’s (2012) sayings on interpretivism, it was important for the topic of this research to consider the differences between the participants whether it is by the culture, values or context or anything that might have affected and influenced the point of view of the individuals. It has been acknowledged prior to the research that some insights have been identified on the context. However, due to the complexity of not only the specificity of the topic but also the multiple realities and relative perspectives of individuals, the findings were not sufficient to answer this research’s questions. Therefore, it was known that further research involving social interactions with vegans on this specific topic were needed and the researcher remained open to the possibility of any new knowledge on the topic. Once the research philosophies were defined, the research approach needed to be determined. In order to make these philosophies possible, it was chosen to use qualitative research.
2.1.2. Qualitative research
A qualitative research was believed to be the best fit for this dissertation. Choosing a qualitative approach made sense for this research in terms of the aim and objectives that have been defined previously and it was the approach to select for the continuity of the philosophies that have been chosen. Qualitative research was used to explore and explain in depth, context-wise, what the participants were asked to talk about (Creswell, 2013). Given the complexity of the topic of this dissertation and uniqueness of each participants’ experiences, a generalization of the data was not possible, and a qualitative approach was essential to try to understand the multiple truths and realities from each participant’s perspective on experiences. In accordance with the research objectives, an inductive approach was selected allowing the researcher through observations and listening to find patterns and reach conclusions or generate theories from the data without the need of any hypotheses prior to the research (Saunders et al, 2012). The next step was to choose data collection and data analysis methods.
2.2. Data collection and analysis
In order to collect data from participants, phenomenological interviews were conducted. Phenomenology aims at describing the lived experiences of participants considering only the perspective that participants have on their experience rather than purely measure and explain the experiences (Creswell, 2013). In this dissertation, phenomenological interviews allowed the researcher to have more depth of information about the experiences of the participants. These types of interviews have been generally known as less structured and more open-ended to facilitate the experience sharing of the participants and get more details about stories (Bryman and Bell, 2011). The interviews were planned to be a minimum of 1 hour as a phenomenological research requires a real understanding of the phenomenon which need a sufficient quantity of data and details (Pietkiewicz and Smith, 2014).
The preparation of questions prior the interviews was not possible as the phenomenology approach was known to use unstructured interviews which meant that no questions could be prepared (Bryman and Bell, 2011). However, themes that wanted to be discussed by the researcher during the interviews and a guide of the interviews’ process has been prepared prior to the conduction (Appendix 1 and 2). It allowed the researcher to guide and facilitate the flow of the interviews to optimize the process and encourage a better quality of discussion. However, the themes prepared were not planned to be all mentioned in just one interview unless it has been cited by the participants, it depended more on which themes were part of the story telling of participants. It allowed the researcher to not influence the participants perspective of truth by asking leading questions. The design of the themes was prepared depending on the aim and objectives of the research.
In order to prepare for the interviews, the researcher conducted a pilot interview with one vegan. It helped the researcher to know how to react to what the participant said such as “tell me more about it” or “you have talked about… do you have an example?”. It also helped to control the researcher emotional response and helped to prevent the sharing of any opinion that the researcher could have had about the topic. The pilot interview was conducted so that the researcher would be able to anticipate her reaction to situations such as embarrassment or silent moments to improve the realization of the real interviews.
2.2.2. Sampling and recruitment
In order to choose the participants to the interviews, purposive sampling was used. It is a non-probability sampling method where the researcher to not want to select randomly participants for the research (Bryman and Bell, 2011). Purposive sampling allowed the researcher to select participants based to her judgement that had essential experiences, characteristics and were relevant to the purpose of the research aim and objectives (Bryman and Bell, 2011). The sample chosen was homogeneous as some characteristics will be common to each participant.
In consequence, the participants were strategically recruited depending on the characteristics needed for the research. The recruitment was mostly realized through Facebook on the Vegan Society Edinburgh’s private group where volunteers contacted me and through the researcher’s friends’ recommendations, however, one participant was the researcher’s personal acquaintance. The recruitment method that was used for each individual participant has been displayed along with the schedule for each interview (date, time, location) and specific details such as their profession and age (Appendix 3). A total of 6 participants has been recruited for the interviews. The number of participants has been chosen according to academic papers recommendations for phenomenological interviews. For phenomenology researches, Creswell (1998) recommends between 5 to 25 interviews, Morse (1994) at least 6 and Dukes (1984) between 3 to 10 interviews. However, Pietkiewicz and Smith (2014) believes that no specific rules on the number of participants can be applied. They add that the number depends on the research’s topic, aim and objectives. For this research, the number 6 for interviews has been chosen following the previous recommendations but also depending on the time available for the realization and the depth of data wanted for the interviews. This research favours the quality of the details and data of interviews rather than the quantity of them. In order to emphasize on the quality of content wanted, the participants chose the location where they could feel more comfortable and the date and time that suited them best. It allowed them to share their story with the best quality of data and details in a comfortable environment. They also had the possibility to choose the drink of snack that they wanted to me offer them (up to 5 pounds) to thank them for their generous participation.
In terms of choosing the demographics of the sample, the 6 participants were chosen to be vegan females between 18 to 34 years old living in Edinburgh. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the largest animal rights organization in the world, has named Edinburgh the most vegan- friendly city of the United Kingdom and the 3rd most vegan-friendly in Europe (peta.org.uk, 2015, 2017). The inhabitants of Edinburgh, also called “Scotland’s vegan capital” (inews.co.uk, 2017), was a good choice for the sample’s residence as it is one of the most vegan-friendly cities that exist. Moreover, it is therefore the ideal place to find vegans and understand the socialization of vegans into veganism as Edinburgh increasingly attract vegans due to its vegan-friendly reputation (inews.co.uk, 2017).
Other than the living location, the gender and age group have been chosen carefully after some research. According to the Vegan Society (2016), Vegan Bits (2018) and Imaner (2018), around 64 percent of UK vegans are females and 53 percent of vegans in UK are between 16 and 34 years old. They added that 51 percent of UK vegans became one between 16 and 24 years old. The age group of 18 to 34 years old have been decided following these facts but only including adults (18+) as most academic papers that we found in the literature review focused on the socialization of children or were too vast age groups. Therefore, it was interesting to contribute to further research to what has been done by narrowing the age group and select a gender to study. Moreover, it was easier to interview adults for ethics reasons. Other than for the predominant statistics for vegan females in UK, some stereotypes are believed to be true to explain the predominance of female being vegan. Some of these stereotypes are mentioned in the article of Harkness (2016), she points out popular beliefs that women are more likely to become vegan than men as most of them are responsible for food shopping and therefore tend to look for healthier options and be more disposed to try veganism. In the article, it is also mentioned that women are most likely to go on a diet to lose weight and not consuming animal products have seen positive results on weight loss, therefore they would tend to choose a vegan lifestyle (Harkness, 2016).
2.2.3. Data analysis
For the data analysis, the simplified version of Hycner’s (1999) analysis process mentioned by Groenewald (2004) has been followed. According to this process, the five steps of a phenomenological analysis are:
1. Bracketing and phenomenological reduction.
2. Delineating units of meaning.
3. Clustering of units of meaning to form themes.
4. Summarising each interview, validating it and where necessary modifying it.
5. Extracting general and unique themes from all the interviews and making a composite summary
Phenomenological reduction allowed the researcher to be objective on the research topic by using the methodology of bracketing. Bracketing is the action of putting aside the researcher’s own experiences, perceptions, knowledge and beliefs about the research’s phenomenon in order to focus only on the perspectives mentioned in the interviews. Thus, the researcher was able to objectively describe and analyse the participants’ experiences without being influenced by her own and without judging the participants’ story and perspective.
Following Hycner’s (1999) recommendation, the researcher listened multiple times to the audio recording of each interview to become familiar with the interview data and the main themes that are mentioned. Once each interview has been repeatedly listened to and conducted, the transcription was directly produced after each conduction. Transcriptions helped to display data and therefore allowed the researcher to do a better and more efficient analysis of content. The researcher listened to the recordings once again to make sure that no essential data was forgotten.
After being familiar with the transcripts, the researcher started to extract and isolate units of meanings, statements that were relevant and interesting for the phenomenon of the research. During this process, the researcher had to continually bracket her perspective, knowledge and presuppositions about the phenomenon to stay as objective as possible in her judgements to what are the interesting statements to extract.
Following the identification and isolation of units of meanings, the statements with similar topics were gathered into clusters for each interview in order to better identify and form themes. Each cluster was named after the signification of the statements gathered which simplified the identification of central themes. For each interview, central emergent themes were identified from the clusters by questioning the meaning of each cluster.
Once the clusters of units have been created and the themes for each participant have been identified, a summary was made for each interview, stating the important statements and themes that have been extracted from the participants story. The main aim of these summaries is for the researcher to check if the essence of the interviews has been captured and understood. Once created, the summary corresponding to their interview was sent to each participant, so they could review and validate the emergent themes and the understanding of the researcher about their story or add more to their story if something has been left out or misunderstood. It allowed the researcher to modify or validate the themes found in order to proceed with the analysis of common themes to all interviews. Moreover, it enabled the researcher to show the legitimacy and authenticity of the meanings and themes found.
The last step after the validity of data were to look at all interviews and find the themes that were commons between them. Individual themes that were believed to be important were also mentioned although it only appears in one interview. These themes were then used to describe the perspectives and experience of the participants using quotes from the interviews in order to display their socialization story to veganism and recommendations for marketers.
2.3. Ethical considerations
This research used participants who agreed and volunteered to participate to the interviews. Each participant read and signed a consent form stating the research topic and aim, indicating that they will be audio recorded and letting the participants choose whether they agree to terms or not (such as being quoted, wanting a copy of the transcript…). Each participant left with a copy of the consent form and the researcher kept the original, a blank consent form is shown in Appendix 4. The consent form has been built following the interview consent form template of the University of Edinburgh-School of Geosciences available online (ed.ac.uk, 2017). For this research, modifications and adaptations needed for the topic and have been made from the template to create this research’s consent form.
1 day prior the interview, each participant was sent a reminder of the date, time and location of the interview by Facebook message (Appendix 5). It allowed the participants not to forget the information without feeling pressure to remember as the researcher managed it for them. It also permitted any last day changes to occur if an emergency came in between and a postponement was needed.
Before starting the interview, the participants have been reminded verbally that they were audio recorded, that they could leave at any moment of the interview or choose not to answer a question. They also have been reminded of the research topic, aim as well as not to hesitate to give examples and telling anecdotes that could help illustrate statements.
The researcher being vegan, it has been acknowledged that the writing of this research could be biased on certain parts. However, the researcher tried as possible to stay neutral, and to put aside own perspectives or opinions. Conducting a pilot study helped the researcher to train not to show or take in consideration any opinion other than the ones of participants, bracketing also allowed the researcher to analyse the interview data neutrally. It has been stated to each participant just before the interviews that the research conductor is vegan in order to comfort participants that no judgements will be made about their experiences and choice of life. Moreover, it was aiming at making them feel more understood and set a comfortable environment to allow participants to openly shares specific details about their story without discomfort or fear to be judged.
Appendix 1: Preparation of themes and question depending on the aim and objectives of the research
Aim and objectives of the research Themes to mention in the interviews
Understand how vegan became socialized into
veganism Beginning question/ main question: “Can you tell me the story and journey on how you became vegan?”
Understand the impact of
primary agents on the
socialization of vegans into
Veganism Parents and Family members
Understand the impact of
secondary agents on the
socialization of vegans into
Veganism Media, school, work, peers, friends, colleagues
Recommendations to marketers for improvements of marketing techniques allowing the attraction of vegans and non-vegans to their products. Talk about what marketing techniques attract them to buy vegan products.
Ask opinions and ideas on possible marketing method improvements that could attract vegan but also non-vegans to buy vegan products
Appendix 2: Interview guide
1) Greet the participant, introduce myself and make her comfortable by buying her what she wants to drink or eat.
2) Introduce the topic, the aim and objectives of the research.
3) Giving the consent form and guide her through the document.
4) Ask her a few details such as the profession, how long she has been vegan for.
5) Tell her the information wanted “Tell me about your story on how you became vegan. What is your journey? Please do not hesitate to tell anecdotes, share stories and experiences. Details and argumentation in your answers would be highly preferable”.
6) Although further questions cannot be planned as it depends on the responses and story of the participant, some questions can be prepared in case of silent moments occur or the participant goes out of subject such as “you mentioned…, tell me more about…”, “you said that… can you give me an example?”.
7) Ask for opinions and recommendations for the enhancement of marketers’ techniques in promoting vegan products.
8) Thank her for answering the questions, sharing their story and participating to the interviews.
9) Tell her that if she has any further question, she can contact the researcher.
Appendix 3: Schedule of interviews and participants details
Pseudonym Date Time Location Recruitment Age Profession Gift
17th of July 9 a.mBooked room at UniversityPersonal acquaintance26 Master
Student (Marketing and Business Analysis) Coffee
19th of July
2 p.mBlack Medicine cafeFacebook vegan society group 25 Master student (Cognition in Science and Society)
Katy Thursday 19th of July 5 p.mAffogato Facebook vegan society group 27 Master student (Sociology and Global Change) Ice creamMaria Friday
20th of July 5.30 p.mPark in front of her work place Friend recommendation
33 Waitress in a cafeTea
21st of July 2 p.mCult espresso Facebook vegan society group 23 Master student (Public Health) Peanut butter toasts
StephanyWednesday 25th of July 3 p.mMeadows parkFacebook vegan society group 23 ? ?
Appendix 4Interview Consent Form
Interview Consent Form
Research project title: The socialization of vegans into veganism
Research investigator: Solène Goujon
Research Participant name:
The interview will take between 1 and 2 hours. We don’t anticipate that there are any risks associated with your participation, but you have the right to stop the interview or withdraw from the research at any time.
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed as part of the above research project. Ethical procedures for academic research undertaken from UK institutions require that interviewees explicitly agree to being interviewed and how the information contained in their interview will be used. This consent form is necessary for us to ensure that you understand the purpose of your involvement and that you agree to the conditions of your participation. Would you therefore read the accompanying information sheet and then sign this form to certify that you approve the following:the interview will be recorded and a transcript will be produced
you will be sent the transcript and given the opportunity to correct any factual errors
the transcript of the interview will be analysed by Solène Goujon as research investigator
access to the interview transcript will be limited to Solène Goujon and academic colleagues and researchers with whom she might collaborate as part of the research process
any summary interview content, or direct quotations from the interview, that are made available through academic publication or other academic outlets will be anonymized so that you cannot be identified, and care will be taken to ensure that other information in the interview that could identify yourself is not revealed
the actual recording will be destroyed after the research
any variation of the conditions above will only occur with your further explicit approval
Business School – 2018 1
Interview Consent Form
I also understand that my words may be quoted directly. With regards to being quoted, please initial next to any of the statements that you agree with:
I wish to review the notes, transcripts, or other data collected during the research pertaining to my participation.
I agree to be quoted directly.
I agree to be quoted directly if my name is not published and a made-up name (pseudonym) is used.
I agree that the researchers may publish documents that contain quotations by me.
All or part of the content of your interview may be used;
In academic papers, policy papers or news articles
On our website and in other media that we may produce such as spoken presentations
On other feedback eventsIn an archive of the project as noted above
By signing this form, I agree that;
I am voluntarily taking part in this project. I understand that I don’t have to take part, and I can stop the interview at any time;
The transcribed interview or extracts from it may be used as described above;
I have read the Information sheet;
I don’t expect to receive any benefit or payment for my participation other than what has been discussed with the researcher prior to the interview;
I can request a copy of the transcript of my interview and may make edits I feel necessary to ensure the effectiveness of any agreement made about confidentiality;
I have been able to ask any questions I might have, and I understand that I am free to contact the researcher with any questions I may have in the future.
Business School – 2018 2
Interview Consent Form257175104141
This research has been reviewed and approved by the Edinburgh University Research Ethics Board. If you have any further questions or concerns about this study, please contact:
32 calton road EH8 8DP Edinburgh
E-mail: [email protected]
What if I have concerns about this research?
If you are worried about this research, or if you are concerned about how it is being conducted, you can contact the Chair of the GeoScience Ethics Committee, University of Edinburgh, Drummond St, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP (or email at [email protected]).
Business School – 2018 3
Appendix 5: Reminder Message for interviews
Dear Participant Name,
This message is to remind you about your interview for the research on the socialization of vegans into veganism in which you kindly accepted to participate.
The interview details are the following:
If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to ask.
Looking forward to meeting you,
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