Understanding "Ostalgie" and Social Connectedness In the Former German Democratic Republic: A Consumer Perspective

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Book Chapter

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In 1989, the former East Germany (or GDR) went through dramatic political, economic, and social changes with influence to the consumer. Despite the GDR’s complex transfer nearly 20 years ago, it provides a rare opportunity to explore how new consumption patterns affect people’s social relationships. One useful construct for studying consumers’ social relationships is social connectedness, which is the subjective awareness of interpersonal closeness with the social world (Lee and Robbins, 1998). The social world includes proximal and distal relationships with family, friends, peers, acquaintances, strangers, community, and society as a whole (Lee and Robbins 1995, 1998, 2000). Consumers' feelings of social connectedness are quite powerful and can be used to measure one of the most fundamental higher order needs-the need of belonging (Baumeister and Leary 1995; Kohut 1984, Lee and Robbins 1995, 2000, Maslow 1970). Published consumer research studies on transitional societies have focused on consumer relationships with brands rather than on the social implications of changing consumption patterns (Coulter et al. 2003; Feick et al. 1995). Additional research has examined consumers’ connectedness within the realms of brand communities where brands take center stage for personal interaction (e.g. Algesheimer et al. 2005; Belk and Tumbat 2005; Kozinets 1999; Muniz and Schau 2005; Schouten and McAlexander 1995). While brand communities manifest the degree of connectedness between the consumer and the brand (Ouwersloot and Odekerken-Schröder 2008), this research recognizes that the construct of social connectedness exists independent of brands, and views social connectedness as a psychological construct that recognizes the fact that community is only one aspect of the social world (family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, and society also comprise the social world).

Publication Title

Cultural Perspectives In a Global Marketplace: Proceedings of the 2010 Cultural Perspectives In Marketing Conference

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