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Table of contents
Table of contents ............................................................................................................................................... 1
Introduction (Rebecca) ...................................................................................................................................... 4
Objective of project (Rebecca + Tannit) ........................................................................................................ 5
Research question (Shared)........................................................................................................................... 5
Methodology (Kornelija)................................................................................................................................ 5
Analysis (Tannit) ............................................................................................................................................ 6
Delimitations (Kornelija) ................................................................................................................................ 6
Terminology box (Rebecca) ........................................................................................................................... 7
Methodology (Kornelija).................................................................................................................................... 8
Role of researchers (Kornelija) ...................................................................................................................... 8
Role of theory in this project (Kornelija) ....................................................................................................... 8
Research (Kornelija)....................................................................................................................................... 9
Design (Kornelija) ........................................................................................................................................ 10
Method (Kornelija) ...................................................................................................................................... 10
Sampling (Kornelija)..................................................................................................................................... 11
Theory .............................................................................................................................................................. 15
Personal identity (Kornelija) ........................................................................................................................ 15
Group identity and consumption (Kornelija)............................................................................................... 16
Consumption and gender (Kornelija) .......................................................................................................... 18
The desired self vs. undesired self (Rebecca) .............................................................................................. 18
Role transition into motherhood (Rebecca) ................................................................................................ 19
Consumption identity in regard to motherhood (Tannit) ........................................................................... 20
Group pressure within motherhood (Tannit) ........................................................................................... 21
Culture (Tannit) ........................................................................................................................................... 22
General concept (Tannit) ......................................................................................................................... 22
The social constructivist position (Tannit) ............................................................................................... 22
Culture based on social constructivistic assumptions (Tannit) ................................................................ 23
National identity and national culture (Tannit) ....................................................................................... 23
Cross-cultural aspects (Tannit) ................................................................................................................ 24
National discourse (Tannit) ..................................................................................................................... 24
National language (Tannit) ..................................................................................................................... 24
1
Brazilian Culture (Tannit) ............................................................................................................................. 25
Portuguese language (Tannit) ................................................................................................................. 25
National identity and discourse (Tannit) ................................................................................................. 26
Family relations (Tannit) .......................................................................................................................... 27
Danish culture (Rebecca) ............................................................................................................................. 28
Trust in authorities (Rebecca) .................................................................................................................. 28
Knowledge and governmental influence on the use of chemicals (Rebecca) .......................................... 29
Ecological consumers (Rebecca) .............................................................................................................. 29
Labels (Rebecca) ...................................................................................................................................... 30
Smell and Perfume (Tannit) ......................................................................................................................... 30
The olfactory system (Tannit) .................................................................................................................. 31
Theory conclusion (Tannit) .......................................................................................................................... 33
Analysis ............................................................................................................................................................ 34
Analysis of personal identity (Kornelija) ...................................................................................................... 34
Analysis of Identity (Kornelija)..................................................................................................................... 34
Analysis on group pressure (Kornelija) ........................................................................................................ 39
Analysis of the desired vs. undesired mother (Rebecca) ............................................................................ 42
Analysis of role transition into motherhood (Rebecca) .............................................................................. 43
The best care a mother can give – is there a difference? (Rebecca)........................................................... 46
Analysis of consumption identity in regard to motherhood (Tannit) ......................................................... 53
Group pressure within motherhood (Tannit) ........................................................................................... 58
Rejection of group pressure within motherhood(Tannit) ........................................................................ 59
Analysis of Brazilian Culture (Tannit)........................................................................................................... 60
Portuguese language (Tannit) ................................................................................................................. 62
National discourse (Tannit) ..................................................................................................................... 62
Family relations (Tannit) .......................................................................................................................... 63
Analysis of Danish culture (Rebecca)........................................................................................................... 65
The Law of Jante and its influence (Rebecca) .......................................................................................... 65
Governmental influence and trust (Rebecca) .......................................................................................... 66
Ecological Consumers (Rebecca) ............................................................................................................. 69
Analysis of Smell as one of baby hygiene product components (Kornelija) ............................................... 70
Conclusion (Tannit) .......................................................................................................................................... 75
References ....................................................................................................................................................... 78
2
Appendix .......................................................................................................................................................... 84
Interview – Bruna (BR)................................................................................................................................. 84
Interview – Daniela (BR) .............................................................................................................................. 84
Interview – Juliana (BR) ............................................................................................................................... 84
Interview – Sandra (BR) ............................................................................................................................... 84
Interview – Talita (BR) ................................................................................................................................. 84
Interview – Annette (DK) ............................................................................................................................. 84
Interview – Bettina (DK) .............................................................................................................................. 84
Interview – Maria (DK) ................................................................................................................................ 84
Interview – Marlene (DK) ............................................................................................................................ 84
Interview – Mette (DK) ................................................................................................................................ 84
Danish Governmental Guideline (Good Chemistryto pregnant and nursing mothers, 9 good habits)....... 84
Interview CD ................................................................................................................................................ 84
3
Introduction (Rebecca)
Every second, across the world, a baby is born. Nine months before that special moment,
two people will start the journey into parenthood. That journey will begin with joy and
excitement, later on the same people will be faced with many decisions. They will read
books, talk to friends, doctors, nurses and family in order to get prepared for this new
chapter in their life. They will spend countless hours buying and choosing all the necessary
baby gear, because only the best is good enough for their baby. But what we consider
being the best, may differ across the world. A mother in Denmark will probably not want to
use any perfume on their baby, since she has learnt from the government health
department that perfume causes allergies and harms the baby’s sensitive skin. A Brazilian
mother would, on the other hand, have received baby perfume as a baby shower gift and
would be interested in having her child always smelling nice as not to signal that one is not
cleaning the baby very well.
When these parents are considering the different products they most often consider the
added value they find important. They might be affected by the different trends like buying
ecological, fair-trade or recyclable products. Added value is when a consumer not only
gains the core of the product, but also added advantages. Like when buying an ecological
shampoo, the core value would be to get clean hair, and the added value would be that it
is environmentally friendly. What people acknowledge as an added value differs between
individuals and cultures. The Copenhagen Institute for future studies states that consumer
demands have changed; it is no longer based only on price and quality, but on critical
assessments of the company´s values, attitude and behavior in relation to societal
development (Larsen, Svendsen & Beck, 2000). A person is always undergoing constant
change as it encounters new people, receives information and enters new stages in life.
This will affect the consumption patterns, which will change accordingly. Identity is often
constructed via possessions, as it reflects their persona. Other members of a culture will
most likely understand what kind of signal the given possession, is to reflect. These
signals or values will differ in different cultures.
4
Objective of project (Rebecca + Tannit)
The aim of this project is to analyze the different behaviors first-time mothers from two
culturally and geographically different countries have. Also, how they build their new
mother identity through consumption, and finally to verify how important the perfume
element in a baby hygiene product is and how it is perceived by the mothers of each
country, regarding it as harmful or necessary. We also try to identify if the consumption
patterns in regards to the baby-products (perfume-free/ with perfume) are reflecting the
woman and/or mothers consumption for herself or if the consumption patterns have
changed since becoming a mother. Furthermore we will look at how big of an influence
other people and society have on the first-time mothers, in regards to buying baby-hygiene
products.
Research question (Shared)
To reach answers to these issues, one main research question has been posed, followed
by three sub-questions that come to support the core inquiry:
How do Danish and Brazilian first-time mothers construct their new identity through
consumption of baby hygiene products?
 Does smell (perfume) play a role in regard to choosing one product over
another?
 Does the new mother identity influence in any way the previous and
continuing general woman identity?
 How does group pressure influence their consumption behavior as first-time
mother?
Methodology (Kornelija)
The methodological section provides the philosophical approach of the project, explains a
role of theory in the project, presents research strategy, methods, as well as choosing
design and research limitation.
The inductive approach method was applied as a relation between the theory and the
research, which defines theory role as a background for research. The project research
5
area from epistemological paradigm was put to interpretivism and from the ontological one
to the constructionism position.
In order to answer the research questions the qualitative research strategy was chosen.
This project research is cross-cultural, so comparative research design was applied and
semi-structured interview method was used to collect the data.
When choosing the
correspondents the purposive sampling method was used. Due to limitations in regard to
time and financial restraints, special attention was given to the interview sampling, for the
amount of interviews would be limited, only five per nationality. Clearly the mothers
listened to had to be as homogeneous as possible. All women were in between the age of
25 and 35 years, had a higher education, were mothers for the first time and their babies
were in between six and 18 months old. They were all Danish or Brazilian and currently
living in their own countries. The reasons for choosing these specific criteria for the
interviewees will be further explained in the Methodology chapter.
The interviews with Danish respondents (first-time mothers) were face- to-face while with
Brazilian mothers online personal interviews in synchronous mode were organized using
Skype’s software service. All interviews were held in the interviewee’s mother-tongue
(Danish and Portuguese), and later selected extracts were freely translated to English.
Parameters established by Guba and Lincoln which are trustworthiness and authenticity
were applied (Bryman, 2008) as a criteria for evaluating research quality.
Analysis (Tannit)
After making a thorough research in available theory on the subject of interest, and also
collecting the empirical data from interviews, an analysis was made in the desire to
comprehend this area of study in more depth and create new grounds of interpretation of
the phenomena involved in the identity construction of first-time mothers and the
complexity behind it.
Delimitations (Kornelija)
The purpose of the project is to investigate the role of smell in hygiene products and the
way first-time mothers build their identity by consuming (buying) baby hygiene products.
The research was limited to comparing Brazil and Danish first-time mothers and focus only
6
on identity construction through baby hygiene products; the role of becoming mothers and
hygiene products consumption pattern changes after child birth.
The term identity in this project is used as a perception of ourselves, how we see and how
we create ourselves by consumption. Image creation of ourselves or the way we want
others to see us and intentionally behave in particular way is refused in the project. The
project is focused on first-time mothers, and fathers or partner role are not considered. The
project also does not focus on the marketing area, and therefore the intention is not to
understand motives of buying particular kind of products and product brands.
Terminology box (Rebecca)
Baby-products/ Baby-hygiene products: When mentioning baby- products or baby-hygiene
products, in this project the following products are considered (also called babies
toiletries): soap, cream, lotion, wet-wipes, sunscreen, perfume, shampoo, oils and other
products used when bathing a child.
Motherhood/ Being a mother: A woman enters motherhood and becomes a mother after
becoming pregnant with her first child, because at that time she will already make
decisions in behalf of herself and her unborn child.
Neutral: When the Danish mothers are mentioning Neutral, they are thinking about a
brand, which has no perfume, no parabens and no additives.
7
Methodology (Kornelija)
The following chapter provides the project’s methodological approach, theory role in the
research, strategy design, methods and provides arguments of why they have been
applied.
Role of researchers (Kornelija)
Three persons were involved in this project. The project research area was defined
according to different opinions of two members in regards to baby hygiene products.
Tannit who is a Brazilian mother has a different opinion regarding baby hygiene products
from that of the Danish mother, Rebecca. It was noticed that Tannit and Rebecca behave
differently when choosing products for their babies.
Thus the research questions are
relevant to researches who might be considered an advantage and disadvantage at the
same time. On one hand it is a benefit, because research participants were interviewed in
their native languages and as researchers are familiar with the research area participants
they were supposed to trust researchers. On the other hand predisposition to particular
opinion can have negative consequences. Researchers can unintentionally influence the
opinion of interviewees and questions might not be interpreted critically enough. That is
why a third member who has no direct relation to the research area plays an important role
as a neutral researcher.
Role of theory in this project (Kornelija)
In order to answer the research questions, theory is used in a project as a background for
empirical analyses. That is why the inductive strategy was used as one of the methods
which defines theory role in the research. This strategy is associated with a qualitative
research and theory here plays a role of a frame for further analyses (Bryman, 2008).
Inductive approach implies theory as an outcome from the observations (Bryman, 2008).
In this project, research questions were constructed first broadly and after critical review of
a theory, narrowed down. And deductive approach represents the view that theory in
social research is the domain where hypotheses come from and after they (hypotheses)
are denied or proved empirically.
8
From an espistemological position, the project research area was put to interpretivism.
This position is based on understanding human behavior and interpretation of it. The
interpretivism position demands the respect of social scientists to differences among
people and the objects (Bryman, 2008). In this project the aim is not to explain a person’s
behavior but to understand motives, reasons of their social actions. Therefore the
positivism position was rejected in this case as it interprets social reality as an objective
knowledge which should be “measured” empirically.
From an ontological position, the research was put to constructionism. The goal of this
project research is to compare behavior of people (first-time mothers) from two different
cultures and to grasp their actions (buying). Constructivism explains social goods as a
result of interactions between people (social actors) (Bryman, 2008). The objective was to
find out similarities or differences between people from two different cultures and to
discover if culture has an impact on a mothers’ attitude regarding hygiene products, or in
other words, if culture is constructed by individuals interaction and are not taken as an
external reality (Bryman, 2008). Objectivism as an ontological position was rejected
because it implies social phenomena as an independent existence without being
influenced by social actors.
Research (Kornelija)
In broad understanding quantitative research is the research strategy which emphasizes
quantification when data are collected and analyzed while qualitative research strategy
focuses on word analyses (Bryman, 2008). Quantitative research entails a deductive
approach to the relationship between theory and research, is relevant to the positivism
position and accepts social reality as an objective one. As mentioned above in this section,
this project research is put to constructionism ontological position and interpretivism as an
epistemological orientation is applied. And in contrast to quantitative strategy it is relevant
to qualitative research strategy. Thus qualitative research strategy was chosen in order to
answer research questions where word rather than number interpretations are more
important when analyzing data. In qualitative research, quantitative data is not collected,
and instead of that, it tries to answer questions “how” and “why” (Bryman, 2008). This
strategy was applied as its methods fits best in order to find answers to what and why
9
causes particular behavior of first-time mothers, why certain decisions are made regarding
the choice of baby hygiene products.
Design (Kornelija)
The research is not only going to investigate why mothers consume particular baby
hygiene products, but also compare mothers as consumers from two different cultures.
Two same methods were implied to examine Brazilian and Danish mothers’ behavior.
Research took place within particular social group: Brazilian (Sao-Paolo region) and
Danish (North Jutland) first-time mothers. Moreover, the research goal was to examine
consumers’ opinion about hygiene products and what role perfume plays in choosing
them. Thus case study design was implied. This research design admits detailed analysis
of a single case (Bryman, 2008). In this project first-time mothers from certain areas are
considered as members of a single community. The type of a case is representative or
typical case. Purpose of this case is to capture the conditions and circumstances of
everyday life situations (Bryman, 2008). The research case cannot be called extreme or
unusual for Brazilian and Danish mothers as baby bathing is a part of hygiene routine for
both countries. However before the research, a prediction was made that mothers from
Brazil and Denmark have different attitudes towards baby hygiene product consumption.
The prediction was based on general notions from two members (Brazilian and Dane) of
the project group. As research participants were from two countries cross-cultural form of
comparative case design was applied as well. The goal of the research is to find
similarities and differences of a same social situation of two different cultures.
Method (Kornelija)
As a method to collect the data, the semi-structured interview was used. During this kind of
interview questions are more like an interview guide and might be asked not in a strict
order. The order of asking them might be different. Questions in interview guide might be
broad and during the conversation with an interviewee they are narrowed down, moreover
additional questions might be asked (Bryman, 2008). The interview guide assures that
same questions will be asked and this makes it possible to analyze answers. This kind of
interview provides two-way communication as well and it is helpful if interviewees want to
ask question in order to give more relevant answer or to clarify the question. As our
research is a comparative one, this is a valuable argument as to the choice of the semi-
10
structured interview method. The questionnaire was divided to main topics with relevant
questions. Interviews with Danish mothers were face-to-face and with first-time mothers
from Brazil via Skype software. “Skype” was the optimal way to have a conversation with
Brazilian participants due to the distance between the two countries (interviewers were
located in Denmark). In this way, it was a helpful option to use, for it was almost the same
method used in the Danish interviews (face-to-face), which was essential to make results
comparable. Moreover, Skype is a free software which does not limit the duration of the
interview. Using of camera tool gave an opportunity to have not only voice conversation
but to have visual contact. At the same time this software involved additional technical
criteria in finding first-time Brazilian mothers which were not employed when looking for
Danish first-time others. First of all Skype should be installed, microphone and camera
have to work properly and Internet connection should have enough speed also.
Sampling (Kornelija)
The choice of research participants is an important component which makes research
successful. As a sampling in qualitative researches purposive one is usually
recommended. This sampling is based on interviewing people who are relevant to the area
of the research (Bryman, 2008). In order to answer the research questions, only first-time
mothers of infants between six and 18 months of age were selected because they buy and
consume baby hygiene products. This age group for the babies was chosen due to the fact
that at this age they have already begun to eat meals and move more actively, which
makes them dirty. Also, the mothers’ educational background and age were the criteria for
choosing interviewees. The age between 25 and 35 was chosen as in this age probability
to be first-time mother is high. Higher education mothers were selected as they are bound
to be more enlightened and interested in reading and investigation. Civil status was not the
most important criterion for the participants as this research area focuses on mother and
women identity. However in order to have as much homogeny groups as it is possible lone
mothers were not involved but at the same time difference between husband and partner
was not emphasized. Five Brazilian and five Danish mothers were interviewed in order to
have optimal number of opinions, taking into consideration time and financial restraints.
This sampling should help to get opinions of members from this specific group. Sampling
table in regards to criteria for participants provides information about each participant.
11
12
Likes soft
perfumes
that won’t
harm the
baby.
Once or
twice a
day with
mild
shampoo
and soap
with
perfume.
Married
Vinícius
14m
Always
uses baby
perfume
on her
son.
Once a
day with
baby soap
with
perfume.
Isabela
6m
Thinks
that
perfumes
are
essential
in baby
Once or
products
twice a
and that
day with
they don’t
head-toharm the
toe soap
baby.
for babies
with
perfume.
14m
Liva
Partner
12m
Ronja
Partner
13m
Alma
Partner
MA
sociology
student
6m
Luisa
Married
Economis
t
Brazilian
28
Married
Teacher
Danish
25
Engenieer
Financial
economist
Danish
28
Pharmaci
st
Danish
25
Brazilian
Juliana
Brazilian
Maria
34
Marlene
27
Mette
Sandra
Talita
Tries to
be as
neutral as
possible,
but likes
mild
Once a
perfumes.
day with
as neutral
a soap as
possible.
Extra
bath on
hot days.
10m
Mariana
Married
Art
teacher
Brazilian
34
Daniela
Believes
that
perfumes
give
identity
and
Twice a
makes
day with
women
head-tomore
toe soap
feminine.
with
perfume.
8m
Valentina
12m
Claudio
Commerc
ial and
clerical
education
and
Married
training
Ocupation
therapist
Married
Danish
31
Bettina
Brazilian
26
Bruna
6m
Benjamin
Partner
Social
educator
Danish
26
Annette
BATH ROUTINE
GENERAL
IMPRESSION ON
PERFUME
AGE
CHILD
CHILD NAME
CIVIL STATUS
EDUCATION
NATIONALITY
AGE
NAME
Reliability and validity (Kornelija)
Bryman (2008) provides Guba’s and Lincoln’s alternative terms to reliability and validity
which according to them are more adapted to qualitative research quality evaluation.
Trustworthiness and authenticity are two primary “measures” to determine research
quality.
Trustworthiness includes such criteria as credibility, transferability, dependability, and
confirmability. A few of them are implied in our research:
Credibility refers to internal validity and establishment of it should ensure that the
research is proceeding according to the parameters of a good practice (Bryman, 2008). In
order to avoid threats for internal validity participants in both groups were chosen
according to the same criteria, research took place at the same time. In the theory chapter
statistic data will be provided in order to follow information for analyses from various data.
Transferability: One of the techniques of transferability is “thick description” which
parallels with external validity. According to thick description results, conclusions are
transferable to other situations (Bryman, 2008). The project examines the role of
smell/perfumes in choosing baby hygiene products and the results of this research might
be referred to in other situations, which deal with consumption or marketing of baby
hygiene products.
Dependability means that the “auditing” approach should be applied in the research
which has to ensure data records in an accessible manner (Bryman, 2008). During this
research transcription of all interviews were made and attached to the project paper.
Confirmability refers to the objectivity in quantitative researches. According to this
criterion complete objectivism is not possible in qualitative researches. Thus, while
interviewing research participants it was important to ask questions in order to find out
their understanding of their social reality. To establish trust with interviewees questions
were asked in their native language, names of babies were asked and used during the
interviews.
13
Fairness as one of authenticity criteria suggested by Lincoln and Guba was applied.
Fairness parameter requires examining different views of the social settings (Bryman,
2008). The main aim of the research was to figure out different opinions regarding the
same things: baby hygiene products, motives of a choice of a particular product in two
different cultures.
Moreover, ontological authenticity is considered in this research as well as research
findings can help in understanding for group members their behavior, why they prefer
products with perfume or without. Bryman (2008) argues that according to ontological
authenticity criteria research should help members to get better knowledge of their social
environment.
Generalizability (Kornelija)
Generalization is one of subjects of criticism in qualitative researches. Bryman (2008)
agrees that results of qualitative researches cannot be generalized as in quantitative
researches because people who are interviewed are not supposed to be representatives
of population. Instead, results are to generalize to theory than to populations or in other
words it is more about quality of theoretical implications that are derived from qualitative
data. In this project analyses will parallel theory and inferences will be based on theoretical
approach which was reviewed and submitted in the theory chapter.
Bryman (2008) presents Williams’s position also that in many cases in qualitative
researches moderatum generalization is produced. This means that some aspects of the
analyzed case can be seen to be ‘instances of a broader set of recognizable features’.
Moderatum generalization is always limited and more tentative than statistical
generalizations. In this project this kind of generalization might be partially applied. For
example, the importance of being a mother might be compared with other researches
findings in regards to other identity roles (ex. wife identity role). Results regarding perfume
role in baby hygiene products might be compared with other researches results that deal
with mother consumption features or findings regarding smell in products might be
compared with consumption by other groups (not mothers).
14
Theory
Personal identity (Kornelija)
One of main aim of this project is to investigate the identity changes of women who
become mothers for the first time. In order to do that, it is vital to define the “identity” term.
As the research is focused on the interpretation of first-time mothers’ behavior and their
identity as mothers, the identity definition will be explained from sociological and
psychological perspectives.
Descartes philosophical statement “Cogito ergo sum” is a ground of modern philosophy
dealing with a question of existence. From a sociological psychology point the identity is
recognition that “I am” which is followed by the question “Who am I?”. An answer for this
question defines identity, understanding of the human being as significant object (Weigert
et.al 2006). First of all we define ourselves as humans, people, persons. The identity
questions are addressed not only to ourselves, but also ask: “Who are you?” “Who is this
individual?” “Who is he or she?” Answers for these questions give meanings which
estimate us as actors in a social situation (Weigert et al, 2006). Thus can be said that we
are actors who create identity by the role we are choosing ourselves.
There is as well “role identity” definition using by theorists in regards to identity. Role
identities have a set of meanings and persons can have different characteristics implied to
the same role identity. For example, for one person being a teacher is to be a good mentor
and friend for pupils and for other it means to be strict and objective in pupil evaluation
(Burke and Stets, 2009).
According to Burke and Stets (2009), a role identity is the internalized meanings and
individuals apply the understanding and symbols for particular role themselves. Culture
and individuals’ distinctive interpretation have an influence on applying these meanings.
The way we see ourselves, we can call self-image and during the interaction self-image is
presented to others. Public image is the way others see us and categorize us. These two
images might not be necessarily similar (Jenkins, 2000). “I think therefore I am” might not
be equal to “I am who I think I am” (Weigert et al, 2006). We are a part of society and as
mentioned before we are interpreted by others. Other members of particular society group
15
or members from other societies can understand our behavior (us) not in the way we want
them to.
The identity construction as a process is related to the consumption. Intentionally or not,
knowingly or not, we consider our possessions as a part of self-being. We are what we
have (Belk, 1988). Through free choice of goods we are able to create self-identity in the
way we want to. We are free to use the goods and by doing that become anyone of
“possible selves”. We can grasp ourselves by identifying with the meanings, objects and
symbols of our consumption. We can create our identity through many objects of
consumption in our daily life. We possess homes, cars, clothes, jewellery etc. (Saren
2007). Things we have should communicate about our unique personality, about our
status and are a symbol of more ideal self-identity (Dittmar, 2007). Thus we can say that
we build our identity through consumption and material goods play an influential role in self
creation.
We are evaluated as humans by symbols and meanings within our historical present. By
accepting these symbols and meanings we are socially constructed. It means that the
entirety of definition of ourselves and definition of us by others consists of intentional,
interactional, structural and cultural processes (Weigert et al, 2006).
Group identity and consumption (Kornelija)
Are we really free as “actors” and can we create our identities in the way we want to? We
as individuals are “framed” by society. Deschamps and Devos(1998) present Turner’s
positions that there are differences between psychological aspects of identity which
emphasize individual exceptionality constructed by entity of specific features, and
sociological aspect of identity which emphasize the importance of person as a member of
a group. Social identity theory explains the self-concept as a derivation of being a
membership of group (Terry et al, 1999). As members of a group we distinguish our
identity from other members of a group with self-conception of who we are, what we are
like, and how we differ from others (Sherman, 2002). According to Hogg and Abrams
(1988), social identity theory in regards with intergroup relations investigates three main
points of self concept:
16
1. People motivation to support positive self-concept.
2. Self concept as a development from group identification. The process of self
identification is perceived by other individuals and defined by society norms.
3. Social identities construction by comparing ingroup against outgroup (this point would
not be taken to account in this project as the research is not focused on members but not
group behavior).
This process of personal experience would be an absurd without the interpretation by
others (Weigert et al2006). We do belong to a group. We create the belonging to the group
by our behavior.
Social categorization (e.g., sex class, team) emphasize differences
between being in a particular group and not (ingroup and outgroup) and similarities
between members of a group including ourselves. The identity of ourselves as group
members enhances our wish to favor things which are acceptable within this group over
things out of this group (Terry et al., 1999).
Burke and Stets (2009) define identity to personal, role identity (which was mentioned
before) and social identity in other words is the identity of belonging to some social group.
According to them from self-reference position person identity is “me”, role identity is “me
as a role” and social identity is “we”. Thus person identity is self-concept, role identity
refers to expectations and behavior related with social position (role) and social identity is
“us” in a term of being a group member.
In terms of consumption “reference group” definition appears. Reference group is defined
as a group of people with whom persons compare themselves to guide their knowledge,
experience, behavior including their consumption behavior. There might be direct
reference groups when there is a contact with members (friends, family, colleagues);
formal groups (church, club, school, mother groups) and broader cultural groups (gender,
age, social class). These groups might have an influence on us as consumers (Hoyer and
Maccinnis, 1997).
17
Consumption and gender (Kornelija)
In order to define a role of being mother in a society the identity of women should be
reviewed. When we identify ourselves we say that we are human and we are or men or
women. Weigert et al (2006) provides several attitudes regarding gender identity. First, it
is important to emphasize the difference between the biological sex and between gender
identities of the individual when individual’s behavior is opposite to his or her biological
“sex” (transsexualism). In this project it is relevant to focus on biological based
categorization. Thus we consider position that gender identity is based on biological
differences and it is invariant as the aim of this project is to compare only women’s
behavior, how behavior in regards to consumption builds women identity.
Gender differences are subject of many researches regarding the consumption. It was
noticed that women are much more involved in buying process than men. Shopping plays
psychological and emotional role for females, moreover women have much more positive
attitudes in purchasing goods while men have negative attitudes. Women tend to accept
the process of buying as an enjoyable one and men focus on the result (Dittmar, 2007).
According to Hoyer and Macinnis (1997), there are a lot of differences between men and
women as consumers. Women as consumers tend to detail and examine the products and
their decisions are based on product attributes. Women also pay attention much more than
man in regards to products and services brands and their symbolic meaning. In other
words women are likely to be more influenced by brands and stereotypes.
The desired self vs. undesired self (Rebecca)
Higgens (1987) argues that there are three basic domains of the self concept.
-
The actual self, which are the attributes that someone (yourself or others) believe
you actually possess.
-
The Ideal self, which is the attributes that someone (yourself or others) hopes and
wishes you would possess.
-
The ought self, which is the attributes that someone (yourself or others) believes
you should or ought to possess.
18
These three domains together will be described as the desired self, since they all are
positive and they reflect what a person in different ways desires to be or aim. The desired
self is build and maintained by buying and using products one can identify with, this also
includes buying and using a product which is seen as desirable by others (Landon, 1974).
Ogilvie (1987) and Hogg and Banister (2001) also argue that there is a fourth domain:
-
The undesired self. This domain is described as the attributes that someone
(yourself or others) don’t want you to possess or the attributes that someone
(yourself or others) rejects.
The undesired self is build and maintained by choosing what products not to buy and
rejecting products which symbolize their distaste (Hogg and Banister, 2001). As mentioned
earlier, people tend to consume product which they see as being similar to themselves,
they also enhance or support their self-concept though the consumption process by
avoiding certain products that have a negative image (Hogg and Banister, 2001).
When applying these different selves on the notion of motherhood, the following will
emerge:
-
The ideal mother – The mother I want to be
-
The actual mother – The mother I am
-
The ought mother – The mother I ought/should be according to my surroundings
-
The undesired mother – The mother I don’t want to be
Carrigan and Szmigin( 2004) argue that when a mother or mother-to-be is consuming for
her child, she will make choices that shows her worth as a good mother. These are
symbols that help her create her new identity, for herself but also in the eyes of those
around her. These choices are influenced by a variety of sources: One´s own preferences
and emotions, peer validation, friends and family, and the range of advisors and experts
available.
Role transition into motherhood (Rebecca)
The transition into motherhood is an important event in a woman´s lifecycle. During
pregnancy and after birth the mother construct her ideal image of herself in her new role,
19
by restructuring her goals, behavior and responsibilities (Mercer 2004). The new role
affects her individual identity, but also her role in society. A woman´s primary responsibility
in society is the one of mother and she is expected to promote the interests of her child on
the behalf of certain aspects of her identity (Bailey, 1999). Gaining a maternal identity is an
ongoing process (Thomsen & Sørensen, 2006), which is characterized by the mother´s
sense of harmony, confidence, her satisfaction in the maternal role, and attachment to her
infant (Mercer 2004). The new role does not develop a new self, but a part of oneself
seems to be deepened (Bailey, 1999). This transition continues to evolve as the mother
gains confidence in her ability to solve new challenges which arises and she feels a
congruence of self and motherhood as others accept her performance (Mercer 2004).
When finding and defining herself in this new role as a mother consumption may have a
signifying part, since many of the self-negotiations and the level of stress often
encountered, are likely to be associated with changes in consumption patterns and
practices (Thomsen & Sørensen, 2006).
Consumption identity in regard to motherhood (Tannit)
As described previously, our identity can be built though our consumption patterns. This
situation is also true in the specific event of motherhood in which practical issues before
the arrival of a new family member have to be address. How this need, followed by its
natural limitations and pressures, is handled is a basic starting point for the study, as to
understand what goes through the mind of first time mothers when they encounter the
possibility of creating this new identity for themselves in a role never before experienced.
Motherhood is a clear moment in a woman’s life that can be determined as “before
pregnancy” and “after birth”, leaving the pregnancy months as an in between time, as
some can consider this as motherhood already. According to Commuri and Gentry (2000),
consumption behaviors can be related in more depth with the transitions between cycle
stages themselves. Fischer and Gainer (1993) look exactly into the life status transition
into motherhood.
A strategy to facilitate the transition to a new role and reduce uncertainty can be done
through consumption (Solomon 1983), in which situation the fact of having the
20
paraphernalia necessary to care for a baby can be half way to a well cared child. Also,
Patrick, MacInnis and Folkes (2002) suggest that consumption can also approximate the
real self to the one considered ideal. A clear example of this is described in the study by
Thomsen and Sørensen (2006) in which they support the idea that by means of purchase
of baby prams in this specific context, the consumption of these women symbolized the
approach to the desired motherhood identity. Andrea Porthero in the study by Thomsen
and Sørensen (2006) proposes that many of the choices made within consumption by
mothers for themselves and the coming child are visible manifestations of the value as a
‘good mother’, even though it many times is not completely clear, as it will be once the
baby is born.
However, not all first-time mothers have built their identity as mothers through
consumption. This as well is an indicator of in which degree motherhood has been
embraced, as the non-consumption of baby products before birth can show the dislike
towards the dominant ideology of intensive mothering (Jennings and O’Malley, 2003).
Another discrepant situation is when consumption gives out a negative aspect in which the
real self and the desired one conflict due to a mislead purchase (Thomsen et al. 2006). For
example, this could happen when a modern mother buys a classic baby item only because
it is said to be the best on the market. This could lead to regret, as it would signal a
different image of self.
Group pressure within motherhood (Tannit)
One aspect that could be decisive in the identity of mothers through consumption is the
direct confrontation with social and cultural pressures. The Voice Group (2010) backs this
up when stating in their studies that the belief that mothering comes naturally to women
and the prevailing ideologies of what being a good mother is nowadays can be excessively
hard on women in such delicate stage of their lives. In addition, The Voice Group (2010)
also describe in their study the effects of counterattacking the pressure to, for example use
only pink and cute items on baby girls, by doing exactly the contrary and make a point in
stating that girls can and should be taught more than simply look good.
Group pressure can also lead to stereotyping, one conflict also avoided by some first-time
mothers as much as possible. This case presented by Thomsen et al. (2006) put forward
21
that in trying to prevent being seen as a stereotypical picture of ‘what a good mother today
does’, mothers buy exactly the opposite of what everyone else is buying.
Culture (Tannit)
General concept (Tannit)
When thinking in the meaning of culture, and what it comprises, endless answers come to
mind. To what extent does culture interfere in our personality, in our decision and points of
view? Hans Gullestrup, mentioned and translated by Dosenrode (2008) says:
“Culture is the worldview and the values, rules, moral norms and actual conduct – as well
as the material and immaterial products and symbols related thereto - as human try to
pass over to the next ‘generation’ and which in one or another form differentiates them
from human beings belonging to another culture.”
Therefore, it is clearly impossible to determine how far the impact of culture in our
everyday life is, but it is affirmative that is relates to the core aspects of society.
The social constructivist position (Tannit)
When looking into the aspect and importance of culture in this project, the researchers
have chosen, in accordance with the methodology line followed and explained in a
previous chapter, to look at it in a social constructive point of view. The social constructivist
stand sets weight in the understanding of culture and its context through society, its events
and the knowledge acquired from that observation (Kim, 2001). Also, as stated by Hong et
al. (2000) culture is not perceived as a general structure with specific norms, values and
mentalities. Instead, it is a free flowing notion of categories and theories that are specific
information created uniquely (idem). Therefore, the positivistic analysis of cultures has
been discarded as it was not a reflection of the social constructivist, as it categorizes the
concept of culture into topic areas like knowledge, beliefs, arts, law, morals and customs
(Neal, Quester, Hawkins, 2004). Another author, Arnould et al. (2004), goes beyond
saying that values include instrumental values, which are the shared beliefs about how
people should behave, and terminal values, which are the desired life goals. The
researchers of this project refute this limitation of what culture is and the ways in which it
22
can develop, as it is not a static concept, but one that is in constant movement and
evolution. The interpretivistic stand in this project emphasizes that these cultural
parameters are not an absolute truth; rather an analytical tool used in the attempt to the
better understanding of cultural phenomena and precisely for that reason will not be
utilized to make an analysis of the empirical data collected through interviews.
Culture based on social constructivistic assumptions (Tannit)
There are specific assumptions on which the social constructivism is based on and that
help in the understanding in depth of this stand and make sense of culture without setting
situations or actions into pre-determined boxes:

Reality: Reality is based on the construction through human activity, and not
something that was always there, but instead, a social invention. It is the members
of a society that collectively invent the properties of the world (Kukla, 2000).

Knowledge: This aspect is constructed on the social and cultural interactions of
humans. As such, it is the people as actors that interact with each other and the
environment in which they are inserted that creates and even reconstructs meaning
(Ernest, 1999).

Learning: Learning within the social constructivists view is seen as a social process.
As such, it is influenced by not only the individual, but as well by the surroundings
and as a result, the behavior towards learning is influenced by external factors
(McMahon, 1997). A learning process that is significant happens when individuals
are engaged in social activities (Kim, 2001).
National identity and national culture (Tannit)
As this project has its aim in making a comparative case study using two countries, it
would be advisable as well to look into the national identity and culture basis, to later on be
able to analyze the data collected and determine to which extent these concepts play a
significant role for the interviewees, consciously or not. The intention is not to make a
purely ‘nation division’, as this as well would be a way of putting people into boxes, like the
positivistic stand suggests, but rather, acknowledge the similar cultural experiences people
from different nations are exposed to, which in this case, as Brazil and Denmark are such
different countries, makes a clear variation in some aspects.
23
National identity is not limited by state lines, but involves cultural markers of birth,
ancestry, upbringing and residence (McCrone & Bechhofer, 2010). National identity is a
form of identification with representations of shared experiences, history, but also an
imaginative identification with symbols (Barker, 2003).
Cross-cultural aspects (Tannit)
In a comparative case study like this one, it would be useful to be able to create firstly a
national parameter and later on contrast the two countries as wholes. However, as
mentioned by Hong and Mallorie (2003), there is still a demand for a model of cultural
psychology that could make out for the even-changing role of the context of inter- and
intra-cultural variations. For this reason, a strong point of analysis for the empirical data
will not be the categorization of nations as such, but in fact using concrete facts and
undeniable current national discourses as presented below.
National discourse (Tannit)
Knowledge, situations, social roles, interpersonal relations and more can be built through
national discourse. There are basic communication means that become common to all
those in the same nation, which lead to this so-called “national discourse”. This could
happen through the exposure to the same political parties rallies, reading of the same
newspapers, listening to the same radio stations, watching the same television channels,
specially the same news broadcasts (De Cillia et al. 1999). However, it is true that other
member of society have a strong say in the construction of a national discourse even
though it is not representing the majority. Civil society associations have a bigger influence
than media, for they can continue their influence while spreading the social identity in the
sense that the collective actors of a group of regular citizens can blend in and make
suggestions, recommendations and encourage attitudes (Bello, 2008).
National language (Tannit)
The national language plays an important role within culture. It allows actors to not only
transmit a subjective piece of information, but also to create an intersubjective meaning (Di
Luzio et al. 2000). This makes it possible for listeners to understand exactly what the
speaker is saying with all its refinements, capturing the very slightest “between the lines”
message. Also, national identities can be discursive through language and also other
24
semiotic systems that can “produce, reproduce, transform and destruct” a nation (De Cillia
et al, 1999).
Brazilian Culture (Tannit)
When speaking about the Brazilian culture, it is necessary to state out that due to the
geographical dimensions of the country and historical heritage from several other countries
whose colonizers came to Brazil since it was discovered, a better term perhaps would be
Brazilian cultures, in plural (Bosi, 1992). For this reason, Brazil cannot be considered a
homogeneous culture and has established social rules of conformity and adaptation,
where social hierarchy is accepted and the collective sense is essential (Fleith, 2002). It is
contested by Dessen et al. (2002) that this idea of being a part gives Brazilians an
acceptance towards inequalities and differences in status. Also, as much as they are
group-oriented, Brazilians can express their thoughts, emotions and opinions openly and
in an extroverted fashion being themselves and showing their individuality. In addition,
they can even act impulsively and relate freely to their emotions (Fleith, 1999; Dessen et
al. 2002)
The interviewees from Brazil were selected from the same geographic area within the
country (São Paulo State) to provide the same availability of products and also because
there is a clear difference between states and the individuals living there. The inhabitants
of the Southeast region, specifically from the State of São Paulo, have been defined to be
more comfortable in the vertical-individualistist cultural pattern, where actors simply
recognize and accept the existence of social norms and inequalities, without questioning
them (Dessen et al. 2002).
Lastly, there is a large mistrust towards the State, as it has through the Brazilian history
shown to be unable to minimize social inequalities and having a tendency to corruption in
the legal system (Dessen et al. 2002).
Portuguese language (Tannit)
Language is one of the communicational tools that have to be learnt. This gives the ability
to, through its stability, communicate with several generations, but also, through its
flexibility, be able to rapidly adapt to new historical or social contexts (Schneider, 2004).
25
Schneider (idem) continues by saying it is only by means of linguistic representation that
the true reality of a social or cultural perspective can be recognized.
There is, however, an important point to be mentioned regarding the language spoken in
Brazil: the name of the official language is “Portuguese”, whilst that which is said to be
spoken is “Brazilian”, even thought this language in theory and legally does not exist. For
this reason, those that do not speak the correct and official language in more formal
situations, are considered to be wrong, undereducated and “language marginals” (Orlandi,
2005).
National identity and discourse (Tannit)
The Brazilian national identity has come from colonial times, bring with it the ideologies of
liberalism and the positivism, among others. On the other hand, it took a general stand
through linguistic and cultural acculturation that lead to a very deep social and cultural
process. This cultural aspect has been proven to have been more profound and lasting
that the ideas spread (Bosi, 1995). Some institutions have tried to call the national identity
of Brazil something that it is not, in a way of ignoring the struggle of lower income classes,
inequality between geographical regions, ethnic groups, families, individuals and even
general interests (Schneider, 2004).
National discourses is represented amongst other means through the political language.
The aim of this discourse is to reach power and also to preserve the power already
established. This language is based on persuasion and is lead merely on someone’s
wishes and desires (Bosi, 1995). Debrun (1990) states in his study that national
discourses do not go in the direction of the popular classes, but in the complete opposite
way. If that were the case, the elite classes would guide intellectuals to formulate and
systemize the common aspirations of each national member, and then it could be named:
national-popular consensus. This is definitely not what happens in today’s Brazil, mentions
Debrun and continues by saying that this is an artificial situation in which the apparent
crisis under which the national theme is undergoing is actually nonexistent.
One mayor national discourse is described by Schneider (2004) of the “Brazilian Project”
held from 2001 to 2003 in which the country’s ethnic diversity was in focus. All of those
that were born on Brazilian soil where considered part of the nation, regardless of the
26
foreign family background and ethnicity. The slogan for this campaign so called New State
was: "Quem nasce no Brasil é brasileiro ou traidor" [Those whom are Born in Brazil are
Brazilians or traitors - free translation].
Some other current national discourses that Brazilians are being exposed to are Carnaval
(the big celebration of joy and problem-free society), soccer (the best players, desired by
teams all over the globe), soap-operas (the glamorous life we all wish to lead), samba
(great music with the Latin appeal) (Debrun, 1990). More up-to-date discourses could be
the ones involving the hosting of the Worlds Cup in Brazil in 2014 and The Olympic
Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Family relations (Tannit)
Brazilian families can be perceived as informal and focused on conformity and adaptation
of social rules. There aren’t many formal rules established and do not question the
reasons for happenings they are encountered with. Improvisation in these cases is a
widely used weapon to get through the situations and be able to solve them
(Strohschneider & Güss, 1998).
In regard to socialization, the family plays a head role, as it is there where family members
can create, protect, support and maintain relationships in the Brazilian society as a whole
(Biasoli-Alves, 2000). This influence of the family goes beyond the nuclear unit, where
others like a grandmother or aunt, can have a say in educational practices and the values
preserved by the family (Fleith, 2002).
Today, the Brazilian family still has the patriarchal figure from the past, in which there is a
distinctive role for each family member, including wife and children, primarily in regard to
authority, tasks and the setting of limits (Fleich, 2002).
In Brazil, until today, the expression ‘Sunday clothes’ are still valid, as it is important for
Brazilians to look their best at Church and give out an impression of being part of society.
According to Cobra (2002), the impact in Marketing in the Brazilian market is strong, one
of the most recognized for its quality around the world. Therefore, many Brazilians, from all
27
socio-economical classes are stimulated by marketing when making their consumption
decisions.
Danish culture (Rebecca)
Denmark is a small country with about 5,5 million people, the official language is Danish
and has been a democracy since 1849. The Danish country is a welfare state, which
builds upon the notion of equal rights for all (Jensen & Tranæs, 2011). The national
mentality of the Danes is defined by the desire to be equal. It is not socially accepted to be
fanatic, excessive or to stand out from the crowd (Grundelach, 2002) as they live by “The
law of Jante” (Shama, 2008):

Don't think you are somebody

Don’t believe that your are as good as us

Don't believe that you are smarter than us

Don't believe that you are better than us

Don't believe that you know more than us

Don't believe that you are more than us

Don't believe that you are good at anything

Don't laugh at us

Don't think that anybody cares for you

Don't believe that you can teach us anything
According to Shama the “Law of Jante” affects the Danes in two ways; a good side and a
bad side. The good side is that it secures equality, since nobody is better than the other.
The other that, success is something kept hidden and for some Danes causes a lack of
self esteem. Grundelach seems to agree with Shama, since he points out that the Danes
aspire to be equal and mediocre at the same time.
Trust in authorities (Rebecca)
The Danish culture is known for its equality and laid-back attitude towards authorities. The
authorities are seen as a resource of help, and they are respected for the work and help
they provide (Shama, 2008). A recent poll, showed that the Danes had the largest amount
28
of trust on the public employees, who they directly were in contact with. Nurses and
doctors were the most trusted (Radiuskommunikation, 2011). A survey carried out in 2011
by the consumer council, clearly showed that the media was the number one source of
information regarding the problems with endocrine disruptors. The government ministries
and consumer NGOs were also mentioned as important messengers.
Knowledge and governmental influence on the use of chemicals (Rebecca)
The Ministry of Environment launched in 2006 a big campaign about the use of chemicals
for pregnant woman, breastfeeding women and children. The campaign was called “Ni
gode råd1” (Nine good advice) and were given nine points of advice on the use of
chemicals. The campaign was made visible to the mothers or mothers-to-be via posters,
pamphlets etc. at the doctor, nurse and midwife offices. A website was produced and
several Danish celebrity mothers were named ambassadors, and were frequently
interviewed by media (Babykemi.dk).
In 2009, the consumer Council launched a
campaign called “KemiKaos - Forbyd hormonforstyrrende stoffer nu!” [ChemicalChaos –
Ban endocrine disruptors now! – free translation], which is a campaign about the
endocrine disruptors and the dangers of having them around us. The campaign is ongoing
and has not yet ended. The aim of the campaign is to educate the Danish consumers and
get the endocrine disruptors banned (TÆNK, Consumer Council, 2011). FDB (Forenede
Danske Brugsforeninger) [United Danish consumer cooperatives – free translation] have in
2011 conducted research about Danish consumers use and knowledge about additives in
body care products. It showed that parents with small children (three to five years old) read
the declarations and knew what the products contained; furthermore the research showed
that parents with higher education were more aware of the additives in soaps and lotions.
Parents with lower educational levels were less aware of the additives. It also showed that
the parents would like to be more informed about the additives, and the children with
higher educated parents used less products.
Ecological consumers (Rebecca)
The Danes places a very high value on the environment (Neal, Quester, Hawkins, 2004).
This showed that the Danes, out of all other nationals, are those whom most consume
ecological products. It is considered to be “normal” to buy ecological products, and since
1
Look at appendix
29
2000 the Ministry of Food has tried to strengthen the production of ecological food through
information, counseling, development of certification systems and supporting research in
this area (Hjelmar & Sandøe, 2011). FDB’s research from 2011, showed that families
choose to buy ecological products, because of the health benefits. The research also
showed that level of education was important, as Danes with higher educational levels
tend to buy more ecological products than Danes with lower levels.
Labels (Rebecca)
There are a large number of different labels in Denmark, which are used to guide the
consumers when choosing a product. In regards to hygiene products, the following are
often used:

“Svanemærket” [Swan Mark] is the Nordic environmental label. It is given to
products that harm the environment as little as possible. Also, the labeled
baby products are not allowed to contain perfume.

“Blomsten” (Ecolabel, with the flower as logo) is the European environmental
label, which has almost the same requirements as the Nordic eco-label.

“Astma og Allergi mærket/ Den blå krans” is the label for the Asthma and
Allergy Association, which is given to products which don’t contain perfume,
additives and parabens which can cause allergies.
Both the European and the Nordic eco-label have been officially approved by the Danish
authorities, and Ecolabelling Denmark has in 2006 carried out a survey to investigate the
knowledge of eco-labels. It showed that the families with children (age zero to three) have
more knowledge of the labels than the rest of the Danish population. 95% of these families
knew these brands and their meaning. Furthermore the families with small children are the
ones who buy most of the products with the labels.
Smell and Perfume (Tannit)
As part of the study, perfume has been selected as an important aspect to be observed
and analyzed, because as unimportant as it may seem, it does have an impact on
consumption decision and patterns. Also, a common symptom during pregnancy is the
30
rejection or over-sensibility to smells, aromas and perfumes. As related previously, women
when entering their new role as mothers can perceive a new relation towards the
rediscovered sense of smell.
The olfactory system (Tannit)
Our olfactory system is one of the primary human senses, along with taste, touch, sight
and hearing, and was chosen for this project as women have been found to be more
affected by scent (Bone et al. 1999) than men, and during the transition to the new role of
motherhood this is significant. As described by Grohol (2005), perception is the process of
acquiring, interpreting, selecting ad organizing sensory information. When all of these
elements are achieved in regard to a scent, or lack of it, in a baby hygiene product, the
perception of this product can be modified completely according to that baggage we all
carry with us in our memory, through past experiences we have had during life. As
described by Helen Keller, “smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of
miles and all the years we have lived”. This voyage can lead to the 100,000 odors in the
world, evoking images, sensations, and associations, enabling the identification of endless
smells that surround us daily (Lindstrom, 2005).
The smells that we are exposed to everyday can also lead to an affective dimension, as
explained by Spangenberg, Crowley and Henderson (1996). In their study, 26 individual
scents were presented to identify a way of classifying smell by:

affective quality of the scent – is the aroma pleasing?;

the arousal level of the scent – will it evoke a physiological response?; and

the intensity of the scent – how strong is it?
The study showed that the element that creates a bigger variation in response was the
affective dimension. This way, the researchers clearly show that the factor that leads to a
higher interpretation of what is a positive or negative smell is in fact a personal matter.
This information can also be corroborated through a study that shows how much important
data can be held within a single scented compound or perfume molecule. A large fragment
of sensory awareness is transmitted by our olfactory system. Studies have shown, as
illustrated below, that whilst vision has 58% importance in communication, as runner up
31
comes smell with 45% regarded to it. This percentage goes beyond what was previously
acknowledged to this human sense.
Figure from Lindstrom, 2005
The use of smell in commercial use and smell’s negative interpretation (Tannit)
For this reason, many pharmaceutical companies today have gone to great lengths to
provide adequate and enjoyable aromas for baby hygiene products as they can activate a
part of the brain that is responsible for one of the two chemical senses: smell, alongside
with taste. Test results have showed a 40% improvement in mood when exposed to a
pleasant fragrance (Lindstrom, 2005).
However, in counterstrike, many have spoken about the threats of use of parabens,
frequently present in products containing perfume. The Danish Environment Ministry has
positioned itself clearly against the use of baby hygiene products that contain perfume and
advise all pregnant women and first-time mothers to “always buy unscented products for
your baby – also toys. Perfume can give your baby an allergy. Therefore, always buy
unscented grooming products for your baby and avoid scented toys”. In this case, the role
of smell would not be in connection with a bad memory of the mother as such, but the use
of perfume could create a negative recognition of this element in a product. Furthermore,
this mother would rely on her olfactory system not to identify a pleasant aroma, but instead
32
to verify if the product being purchased doesn’t have a prejudicial component for the
baby’s skin.
Theory conclusion (Tannit)
In sum, through the studies mentioned above, it is possible to perceive that how and what
is consumed by first-time mothers makes a distinctive point in portraying the new
motherhood role identity created based on the consumption patterns and decisions which
lead to a refresh sense of self in an unexplored field of life: being a mom.
33
Analysis
Analysis of personal identity (Kornelija)
This part of analyses will be focused on first-time mothers’ identity as woman; if there is
any group pressure while making decisions what kind of hygiene products to choose. As
well the role of being mother as a new role in their lives will be analyzed; if mothers are
influenced by opinion of others, what criteria they follow when choosing products for
themselves as women.
Analysis of Identity (Kornelija)
While speaking about the personal identity of course all participants define themselves as
women and as first-time mothers. This categorization is based biologically. According to
Weigert et al. (2006) we define ourselves as human and as actors of social situations. For
this project it is important to analyze consumption features. Social situation in this case is
consumption of hygiene products by first-time mothers and the goal is to find out how
Brazilian and Danish mothers act in order to build their identity of being women and
mothers.
One of the interview questions was: “When buying body care products for yourself, what
are you looking to get out of the product in regard to product added value?” The answers
for this question show how women build their identity as women through consumption,
what factors are important for them when purchasing hygiene products for themselves,
whilst being relevant price, brand and composition.
According to the answers brand does not play an influential role in choosing hygiene
products. Daniela (BR) and Maria (DK) mentioned that they do pay attention to brand
when buying hygiene products for themselves but at the same time other values are more
relevant than these. Daniela (BR) buys particular brand products as she cares about
recycling and sustainability and this brand communicates about it. For Maria (DK) brand is
important when the choice is between unknown and well known brand, but price should be
the same so that the well known brand product is bought. Only two mothers find brand
valuable when choosing hygiene products for themselves. Bettina (DK) mentioned that
before becoming a mother the brand was an important criterion when choosing products,
34
but now she cares more about hygiene products without additives and she does not care
about “expensive” brands after becoming a mother.
“Earlier I would spend a lot on expensive brands, but now I am just as
contend with Derma which is cheaper and doesn’t have all the additives.”
Bettina (DK)
“The brand does have a strong impact for me”. Sandra (BR)
The price was mentioned more often in answers. Bruna (BR) and Talita (BR) are
concerned about reasonable price. Bruna (BR) would choose cheaper product which has
the same “effect” as more expensive one.
“I buy cheap products that have the same effect as the more expensive
ones.” Bruna (BR)
Talita (BR) chooses products which in her opinion are adequate for the price. Maria (DK)
also pays attention to product price. Bettina (DK) uses less expensive products than
before. Only Annette (DK) stated that that price does not play any role in choosing
products as the most important criteria are products without perfumes and parabens in it
(composition). Bettina (DK) also mentioned product composition. Answers show that
there are no evident differences between Brazilian and Danish women when they buy
hygiene product for themselves. Brands are not the main factors which influence their
decision. Product attributes and price are more important in making decision. According
Hoyer and Macinnis (1997), women as consumers tend to detail and examine the products
and their decisions are based on product attributes. Thus Hoyer and Macinnis (1997) state
that women are likely to be more influenced by brands (not for their babies). However,
situation changes when women answer for the same question but in regards to baby
hygiene products.
“I have discarded a lot of products which I still haven’t emptied. There are
also new products which I had to get to know and find new products which
could substitute the ones discarded. It was like entering a whole new world”.
Maria (DK)
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Bruna (BR), as mentioned before, for herself tends to choose cheap products but she state
that: “For Valentina [her daughter] I do not use the same rule”. And for question about
decision in choosing baby hygiene products her answer is “Brands that I know, have good
quality and that are specific for babies”.
Bettina (DK), who changed her attitude to expensive brands after become a mother, is
now very careful about products for her child and pays attention to product components:
“I have chosen the product I use based on the fact that they have the The
Nordic Eco-label, a Danish asthma and allergy label and also the eco-label.
But the eco-label is the least important one. I have never bought pampers
products, because they might have perfume, parabens and other additives in
them, I know they might write on the package that they don’t contain, but if you
read the declaration it is in there or there might be alcohol in them.” Bettina
(DK)
All these women are mothers so they play their mother role together with their women role
and their consuming behavior pattern differs in these two situations.
Burke and Stets (2009) argue that meanings we put to the same role identities differ. This
new role (motherhood) involved the consumption of products they did not use before, baby
hygiene products. In regards to products and baby hygiene routine, all of interviewed
mothers believe they are good mothers as stated in the part of analyses about undesired
and desired mothers. However, Brazilian and Danish mothers choose baby hygiene
products according to different criteria. Danish mothers do not use products with perfumes
in baby hygiene products and Brazilian mothers do. Perfume as a component and its
impact for a baby hygiene products choice is analyzed in further section, but here this
aspect is important as it is an evidence that “I think therefore I am” is not equal to “I am
who I think I am” (Weigert et al., 2006). The meanings of being a good mother in Brazil
and in Denmark toward baby hygiene products differ and the mothers self-image is
interpreted differently by Brazilian mothers and Danish ones as members of a particular
society group or members from different societies can understand others behavior not in
the way it is pretended by Weigert et al. (2006).
36
Another way of developing and showing mother role identity, is through the cares that firsttime mothers had before the birth of their babies, specifically with attention to prenatal
care, guidelines, books, attendance to mother courses etc. Becoming a mother was a very
meaningful change in their life. All women (Brazilian and Danish) answered positively to
the question if they had prenatal care during pregnancy. They were women prepared to
become mothers or, in other words, they were prepared to accept a new role in a society
and they were interested in performing the best they could:
“I took course last four months of pregnancy with all sorts of doctors, changes
for the mothers, the relationship with the father. My personal education [BA in
Ocupational Therapy] helped me a lot too and Internet stuff I Iooked up.”
Bruna (BR)
Courses together with books and Internet sources for some Brazilian mothers seems to be
an useful practice before child birth:
“I read a book, and research on the Internet and took a course at the hospital
where Isabela was born. The course was very complete with specialists in
each area, talking about kinds of labour, nutritional information, how to bathe,
change diapers, changes in the family life.” Talita (BR)
“I did many things. When I got pregnant, I really got into the subject. Took
courses, read books, looked on the Internet, spoke with other mothers, went to
mother group meetings, did yoga, I was very concerned in reading a lot as not
be too theoretical and not practical.”Daniela (BR)
For Juliana (BR) while preparing for new role most important were practical issues which
she had with her nephews also she took advices from her friends:
“I didn’t do anything specific, like courses or books. I spoke with several of my
friends and got advice from them, apart from my own experience with my
nephews”. Juliana (BR)
Sandra (BR) and Mette (DK) also mentioned experience with cousins as an importance in
preparation to motherhood role:
37
“I read several books, Internet, and the experience with my cousins”. Sandra
(BR)
“I looked online, read books; I also talked to friends who are mothers. I think I
was prepared for motherhood.” Mette (DK)
Annette from Denmark in addition to prenatal care had also breastfeeding course at
hospital:
“I went to the checkups at the midwife, doctor and had a couple of scans. I
also had a small breastfeeding course at the “midwife- center”, info meeting
about birth at Aalborg hospital, and a guided tour of the maternity ward.”
Annette (DK)
The seriousness and responsibility which involves becoming a mother shows Annette (DK)
response that despite many things she did while being pregnant she did not feel to be
completely prepared for this new role on her life:
“I talked to friends and the borrowed a couple of books at the library, but I
didn’t read them properly, since I’m not the kind of person who loves books.
Then I read the book I got at the doctor (Mit første barn” – “My first child”) from
Libero. Then I used the internet to read about stuff, like my concerns and to
answer my questions regarding the pregnancy, but also about birth and the
time after. I signed up to get pregnancy mail every day, in order for me to
follow the development. I think I have read and knew the things I was
supposed to know, but there are always some stuff that you didn’t think about
because it is the first time you go through this process. I didn’t feel 100%
prepared, since I don’t believe one can be completely prepared.” Annette (DK)
Bettina (DK) and Maria (DK) also mention flyers from their doctor and not being focused
on books. Moreover, Bettina, surprisingly for herself did not go crazy about information:
“I read one book, some magazines, and I read the book I got from the doctor. I
thought I would go crazy in gathering information, because that’s how I usually
am. But I was quite at ease about it.” Bettina (DK)
38
“I borrowed some books, but I never really read them. I read stuff on the
internet, since I thought it was easier and I also read the brochures I got from
the doctor and midwife.” Maria (DK)
Marlene (DK) did not read anything about baby care after birth, she was more interested in
the pregnancy period:
“I had one book, were I read about the different stages of the fetus. I didn’t
read anything about what happened after the baby was born.” Marlene (DK)
Analysis on group pressure (Kornelija)
Individuals construct “possible selfs” in the way they want including free choice and
possession of goods (Saren, 2007). This happened in this research when participants
made decisions of what kind of products to choose in consuming hygiene products.
However, according to Terry et al., (1999) social identity theory explains the self-concept
as a derivation of having a membership of a group. During the research it was noticed that
in regards to baby products, women are interested in positive self-concept supporting and
as stated before all mothers believe they are good mothers and took serious preparation
while being pregnant. Mothers also state, that they seek for advices about baby hygiene
routine:
“First listening to other people experience” Bruna (BR)
“Spoke with other mothers, went to mother groups meetings.”Daniela (BR)
Juliana (BR) said: “Her pedestrian told me to give her the afternoon bath to get her
relaxed”. She also involved her mother to help in this routine: “In the hospital they showed
me what to do. At home, my mother helped me a lot during the first days”
Talita (BR) also had a lot of advices and recommendations:
“Talking [at course] about kinds of labour, nutritional information, how to
bathe the baby, change diapers(…)” Talita (BR)
Danish mothers also asked other members of society about motherhood.
“Also talked to friends who are mothers”. Mette (DK)
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“I also read the brochures I got from the doctor and midwife”. Maria (DK)
“I read the book I got from the doctor”. Bettina (DK)
“Talked to friends”. Annette (DK)
According to these answers it is more than clear that mothers from both countries were
influenced by other opinions regarding the understanding of being a good mother in their
environment. According to Terry et al. (1999), identity of ourselves as group members
enhances our wish to favor things which are acceptable within this group over things out of
this group.
However, only a few of them stated that they do feel some pressure when choosing
specific hygiene product for their babies.
“Yes, products recommended by other mothers or her doctor, like washing
products for her clothes” Bruna (BR)
“I’ve got some [products] as a gift when she and that I continued using and
buying” Daniela (BR)
But at the same time Daniela does not feel any pressure or obligation to use certain
product. Brazilian and Danish mothers do not consider this as group pressure and decision
according to them are based on their own believes what best suits for their babies.
If we will put group pressure to definition of a “reference group” (Hoyer and Maccinnis,
1997) some of mothers do follow direct reference group advices:
For Daniela (BR) her husband opinion is very important:
“We do everything together. Actually, he is one whom generally bathes her”
Daniela (BR)
Talita (BR) also is aware of her husband opinion but do not seek for advices among friend
or colleagues:
40
“He [husband] helps me bath her and is just concerned if the products won’t
harm her. He checks on her skin to verify if nothing wrong happening and
reads composition at all bottles products”. Talita (BR)
It was noticed that Brazilian mothers are more concerned about direct group while Danish
mothers in baby hygiene products tend to trust doctors opinion or follow governmental
recommendations what according to Hoyer and Maccinnis (2007) is formal group:
“I used the guidelines issued by the government while being pregnant” Bettina
(DK)
Maria (DK) even pays more attention to formal group advises than to direct reference
group (her husband).
“I would think about it if they [doctors] said something, as their knowledge
effect me much more. I think I have more respect for them, and trust in
whatever they say it is true.(…)They [governmental advices] affect me, but on
the other hand there are some things which I don’t follow. Like giving her Iron
supplement, because it gives her constipation. I look at her and how she’s
doing, if she seems to be fine that’s how I decide on what’s good for her.
(…)He [husband] doesn’t have a say in this matter, I think a lot of the things
we do I regard to routines etc. we do it because I say that’s the way, he hasn’t
really read a lot about it and I have told him about it” Maria (DK)
Annette (DK) would even refuse her mother (direct group) recommendations regarding
perfumes:
“If my mom asked me to try something with perfume, I probably wouldn’t try it”.
Annette (DK)
Also Annette (DK) listened to nurse advices regarding baby bath routine:
“(…)but the nurse told me that he shouldn’t have a bath more than twice a
week”. Annette (DK)
In comparing first-time mothers from both countries regarding hygiene products issues, it
was noticed that mothers are more aware when choosing baby hygiene products than
41
hygiene products for themselves. Also first-time mothers from both countries do not have
strong relationships regarding advices and recommendations with other mothers. Thus we
can state that the mother role identity in this situation becomes much more important than
the women identity. In other words, “me as a role” is much more influential in choosing
hygiene products than “me” as person identity or “we” as social identity.
Analysis of the desired vs. undesired mother (Rebecca)
When talking to the mothers about the actual and the ideal self /mother, mentioned by
Higgens (1987), the mothers were in general confident in themselves as mothers and
believed they were the ideal mothers in regards to giving their baby the best care and
hygiene products. Their actual selves and ideal selves are merged together.
“I don’t think I can do it better than now, so there is nothing I would like to
change. I am a good mother now.” Mette (DK)
“I am pleased with myself; I don’t think I have to change anything.” Sandra
(BR)
Only two of the mothers, could see and identify something they would like to change in
order for them to become the ideal mother they would like to become. They were both
Brazilian mothers and they both thought they should add some more products (Cream, oils
or toothpaste) or actions (Massage or tooth-brushing) in their daily routine. One can clearly
see that Talita (BR) is experiencing a conflict in between her ideal mother and her actual
mother. Her actual mother is using what she considers to be basic products, because she
sees herself as being careful and precautious, but at the same time she would like to use
more products to give her baby a “treat”. Her excuse for not being able to meet her own
wishes of motherhood is lack of time and patience. Daniela believes that she could take
more action in regards to her daughter’s teeth, and because she forgets to do so and is
therefore not the ideal mother she wishes to be. This could indicate that she is having very
high expectations for herself, since the ideal mother for her, is not allowed to forget.
“I am a careful and precautious mother. I use the basic things. I don’t use
loads of creams, several products for the same thing – just the basic.” (…) “I
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would like to have more patience and time to use more creams on her,
massage oils to give her a treat.” Talita (BR)
“I think I forget to brush her teeth more often… I remember always at night, but
not always during the day.” Daniela (BR)
The actual selves were portrait to be the same for all the mothers. They all believed
themselves to be responsible, caring, reasonable, reflecting or even calculating in regards
to their use of baby hygiene products. Their main aim for them is to give their baby the
best possible care.
“I’m a reasonable mother, since this matter is controlled by my common sense.
I want to buy what is best for her. With choices like these, I think a lot about
the consequences of choosing differently. I think I’m reasonable, perhaps I act
holy.” Maria (DK)
“I think I am a caring mother, that tries to give her baby the best possible.”
Juliana (BR)
Analysis of role transition into motherhood (Rebecca)
Mercer (2004) argues that women who enters this new stage in their life as motherhood is,
will construct her ideal image of her as a mother (desired mother) while being pregnant
and after birth. The will do so by restructuring her goals, behavior and responsibilities. This
is for example shown by Mette, who describes how she have changed her behavior in
regards to all the products in her home, because she now feels a responsibility to keep all
her family safe.
“The hygiene products for myself as shampoo etc. has also changed, to the
same as with the other products. No perfume, no parabens and additives.
There is nothing in the products I use for me, my child and out home! Not even
for my boyfriend – I threw all his old stuff away (..) I changed everything while
being pregnant, not all in the same time. I have considered buying scented
product for us, especially for him since he don’t think its fun to go without. But I
haven’t done it because I have become more aware of what’s harmful to us
and what’s not.” – Mette (DK)
43
She has discarded all scented product not only for her and her child, but also for her
husband – even though he has expressed his dissatisfaction about it. This indicates that
she have changed her role towards him as well as gained a maternal role. One might even
think that her maternal role have grown to include him, as she decides what is harmful to
him as well , hence he is not allowed to use them.
Also Daniela has changed the products she uses in her house, because she would like to
make sure her daughter isn’t bothers by them.
“For my house I use products that don’t have a strong smell. Before I used the
cheapest one, today I pay more attention to see if it won’t bother Mariana.”
Daniela (BR)
The new role affects her individual identity, but also her role in society. A woman´s
primary responsibility is in society to mother and she is expected to promote the interests
of her child on the behalf of certain aspects of her identity (Bailey, 1999). Several of the
mothers are stating that they have changed on behalf of their child. Bruna, a Brazilian
mother, buys cheap product for herself, but for her daughter she will buy the expensive
ones, which indicates that she believes that the expensive products are better for her
daughter, even though the do the same job.
“I buy the cheap products that have the same effect as the more expensive
ones. For Valentina I don’t use the same rule.” Bruna (DK)
Both Mette and Anette have stopped using perfume themselves; since they are afraid it
will harm their children.
“They [her habits] have changed, I don’t use perfume myself anymore. I did
that before becoming pregnant and all our cleaning product for the house are
all without parabens, perfume and additives. I hope by this will harm by child
as little as possible.” Mette (DK)
Annette clearly states that she likes the smell of perfume and before being pregnant she
believed it indicated the quality of the product. This change in opinion has clearly
happened because of motherhood and might be explained by the information given by
society.
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“I used to use perfume every day before, now I only use it if I’m going out.”
(..)”I didn’t think about stuff like that before, before I thought the better it
smelled the better it was. That’s not how I fell anymore; I think that’s due to the
facts that I want the best for my child” [about how she prepared herself for
Motherhood]: “I read the book I got at the doctor (Mit første barn” – “My first
child”) from Libero. Then I used the internet to read about stuff, like my
concerns and to answer my questions regarding the pregnancy, but also about
birth and the time after. I signed up to get pregnancy mail every day, in order
for me to follow the development.” Annette (DK)
Annette describes how she think she will change her ways in time, and is therefore
showing that gaining a maternal identity is ongoing (Thomsen & Sørensen, 2006) and will
change as her ideas of the desired mother changes. Also by stating this, she might
question the harm of perfume, because if she really considered it to be harmful, it would be
harmful for her child at a later stage too.
“When he becomes older I don’t think I will be as careful as I am now. Then I
might use an ordinary shampoo on him. As long as he is so small, I believe he
is a bit sensitive. I don’t know when that will be, maybe when he starts
preschool.” Annette (DK)
This maternal identity is characterized by the mother´s sense of harmony, confidence, her
satisfaction in the maternal role, and attachment to her infant (Mercer 2004). In general
the mothers have confidence in their role as mothers.
“I am pleased with myself; I don’t think I have to change anything.” Sandra
(BR)
However, Mette describes how she feels she is a good mother now, but also indicate she
have had her doubts in the past. This is further supported by her feeling overwhelmed at
the hospital as mentioned in the “Consumption within motherhood” part.
“I don’t think I can do it better than now, so there is nothing I would like to
change. I am a good mother now.”(..,) “She had her first bath when she was a
week old. I did this because I stayed at the hospital for a week and they said
45
she shouldn’t have a bath before being a week old. I didn’t question this and
were content with not having to deal with one more thing.” Mette (DK)
Marlene expresses that the opinion of her friends and her appearance is more important
than the guidelines provided during pregnancy.
“When pregnant I did do some of the thing they recommend you not to do as
coloring your hair and using hairspray. I wasn’t that prissy. I think I was too
vain to care about those “rules”. I think I colored my hair even though I know It
wasn’t a good thing, because several of my friends have done it, and their
children turned out to be fine.” Marlene (DK)
In comparison to the other Danish mother, she is the one who have the most criteria’s
(Ecologocal, Non – perfume, – No parabens and other additives and non tested on
animals) in regards to baby products. This contradiction might be because she in
pregnancy haven’t gained her maternal identity yet and therefore haven’t had the feeling of
attachment to her unborn. This radical change could therefore also be seen as an attempt
to undo her “mistake” (coloring of hair) in pregnancy.
The best care a mother can give – is there a difference? (Rebecca)
The difference in the two groups is what they believe in being the best care. According to
Landon (1974), the desired self is build and maintained by buying and using products one
can identify with, which mean that the Danish mothers are all buying and using products,
which are perfume-free, paraben-free and free of other additives, as they believe perfume
is harmful and can cause skin problems, allergies and asthma. They wouldn’t therefore be
the desired mother they want to be if they are exposing their babies to perfume.
“It could be nice if it had a smell, but there is a reason why it doesn’t. I would
love if it had a smell, but I don’t have the conscious for it. “ Marlene (DK)
“Before becoming a mother I haven’t thought about allergies and eczema,
because I never had it, but when having the responsibility for another person
you would like to give it the best start and opportunities.” Maria (DK)
46
“I have chosen the product I use based on the fact that they have the The
Nordic Eco-label, the Danish asthma and allergy label and also the eco-label.”
Bettina (DK)
On the opposite site, the Brazilian mothers are all buying and using product which contain
perfume, since they believe a baby should have a nice perfume smell and associate
perfume smell with cleanliness.
“All babies have to have that nice baby smell, lavender and all that. I think they
seem clean when they do”. Sandra (BR)
“I think it’s important that they have perfume, mild and soft, with body powder
scent”. Talita (BR)
This has much to do with the notion of ought mother, because they are afraid that their
friends and family would think they were not good mothers, if the baby isn’t what they
consider to be clean and nice smelling. They are, according to Landon (1974), buying and
using scented products to show they are worth as a good mother according to themselves
and others, as they consider a baby smelling of perfume to be desirable.
“I am however interested that Luisa smells nice and looks clean when my
friends see her.” Juliana (BR)
“My family and husband, mother-in-law, expect me to do the best for her so
that she is well taken care of.” Bruna (BR)
“My parents, Guilherme (husband), my friends, our group from church whom
are the ones Isabela most has contact with. They expect me to have her clean
and smelling nice always… because a bad smelling child is not nice!” Talita
(BR)
The Danish mothers believe they ought to be are a mother who doesn’t use perfume,
parabens, soap and limit other products on their baby. Carrigan and Szmigin (2004)
argues that when a mother or mother-to-be is consuming for her child, she will make
choices that shows her value as a good mother. The mothers are therefore buying a
47
limited number of products and they are all without perfume, parabens etc. By doing this
she is creating her new identity, but also in the eyes of those around her.
“I think the ideal mother in the Danish society, is not to use perfume on the
child and one chooses to prioritize using products like Neutral and Derma on
the child. I think that’s a general trend which is obvious in the Danish society. I
think I live up the notation of the ideal mother, but I also believe that the
surroundings have an impact on how I have become. I have been enlightened
about the risk in using perfume by society, because that’s where the
information has been.” Maria (DK)
“I think I am the mother society thinks I should be. A mother who is concerned
about the perfume and additives, but also being able to be relaxed about and
come to terms with the fact that you can’t control everything.” Bettina (DK)
“In regards to giving a foam bath. I think a lot of people would think that wasn’t
ok. Because you are not supposed to use soap until they are at least one year
I think. That might not be the smartest thing to do, but I think it’s fun and so
does she.” Marlene (DK)
Marlene, is the only Danish mother who doesn’t consider herself as the mother society
states she should be, because she gives her daughter an unscented foam bath once a
week, not because of perfume but because of soap.
The Danish mothers also don’t bathe their baby as often as the Brazilian mothers do and
some of them have never used soap on their baby. They don’t see the need for soap and
they believe that soap will dry out the baby’s skin and eventually harm it.
“I give her a bath once a week, I only use water. (…) I don’t use any products.”
Maria (DK)
“He has a bath a couple of times a week, and that is with baby oil or baby
soap once a week. He doesn’t have dry skin, but if you go crazy with the soap
you can easily see it. That means that sometimes he will bathe without soap. I
also don’t wash his hair every time. I think it is every second time – so once a
week.” Bettina (DK)
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“I don’t use soap on him unless he has something on his hands, because me
and Thomas (Partner & father) agreed on that babies don’t need soap on their
skin, it can actually harm their skin more that it does them any good, because
they dry out the skin. Therefore we have decided that he shouldn’t use that.
We only use water and only shampoo once a week.” Annette (DK)
The Brazilian mothers give their baby a bath at least once a day, because they believe it
cleans the baby and relaxes them. Note that there is a difference in climate and that might
have an effect on the difference in behavior. The climate could also be a reason for Danish
mothers not to bathe their children as often, as it’s cold and the children don’t sweat as
much. Furthermore, this can also be a reason, why the Danish mothers could experience
their babies having dry skin, as a cold climate can have this affect.
“In Rio, I’ve bathed him up to three times a day in the very warm months. But
ok, normally just once a day. I use liquid soap for children. The one I use
smells super nice! I sometimes wash his hair with shampoo and conditioner,
and sometimes just with the same liquid soap made to be used all over the
body. After the shower I usually use a body lotion“ Sandra (BR)
“I bathe her twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I use
only one product, a head-to-toe one that I use all over her.” Juliana (BR)
“She is from October and I used it [baby oil] in the winter because it was cold
and I felt she had a bit dry skin.” Maria (DK)
This difference in use of scented/unscented products, and frequency of bath also plays a
big role in what the mothers would like to avoid as a mother and what they consider being
a bad mother.
The Brazilian mother Talita’s, who has a BA in Pharmacy, biggest fear is having other
people think that she doesn’t take care of her daughter by leaving her smelling bad and
being dirty.
“I would like to avoid having her smelling bad or dirty: poo, pee, snort, sweat. I
want to avoid people thinking that I am a pig or that I don’t take enough care
that my daughter doesn’t have an infection for lack of care” Talita (BR)
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When asked about only giving her child a bath weekly, she replies that it would be a lack
of care, leaving the child open to get infections and smelling of pee, etc. Again she
presumes the child living in a warm climate as the one in Brazil. This mother has built her
cultural stand points based on experiences from her everyday life (like hot weather,
sweating, etc) and has then created a 'showering culture' for herself. In regards to the
culture, it's important to fit in and smell nice, even though the 40 oC outside, even if it
means to bathe your child several times a day.
“In this climate! I think it’s a lack of care with hygiene because the kid can get
some kind of infection, urinal or not, and it would have a strong sweat, poo and
pee smell.” Talita (BR)
Furthermore, she states that some kind of soap have to be used, to fight of bacteria and
infections. She believes that mothers who only bathe their child once a week and mothers
who only use water when bathing, are bad mothers. In other words, that’s the kind of
mother she would like to avoid being.
“It is necessary because soap is antiseptic and removes skin fats that can also
give some kinds of infections on the skin, also urine issues. Some kind of soap
has to be used. In a hygiene and care aspect, I would say that this mother is
not a good mother” Talita (BR)
Other Brazilian mothers, Sandra and Bruna, also react strongly when asked about their
opinion of a mother who only bathes her child once a week.
“WOW! A TERRIBLE MOTHER! Vinicius always has taken baths and to not do
it a whole week?!?!” Sandra (BR)
“She could bathe him or her more often. I do think she is a bad mother.”
Bruna (BR)
Bruna also believes, like all the Brazilian mothers, that by using only water one cannot
ensure the child is thoroughly clean, and therefore the mother is neglecting the child in
regard to cleanliness.
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“Only water? I don’t feel the kid is clean after using only water, but it’s better
than only once a week….. Not a bad mother, as the other one, but lacking
attention with the child.” Bruna (BR)
Moreover, Daniela (BR) states that the bath is not only to clean the baby, but also to get
the baby to relax. By not bathing a baby as often as she does (daily), she feels that the
child would be not only dirty, but also un-relaxed and unhappy.
“It depends on the weather. in a mild weather, normal child, normal conditions
I would think it’s bad, because I associate the bath not only to cleanness, but
also to well-being, relaxation. I wouldn’t like to do that. I get the impression
that the child won’t be as relaxed and happy as if she were bathed more often.
But I honestly don’t know how dirty they would be, but the relaxation is an
important element.” Daniela (BR)
In sum, the mother whom the Brazilian mothers are trying to avoid being and think is a bad
mother, is a mother who only bathes her child once a week and doesn’t use soap. They
feel that by not bathing and using soap, the mother is neglecting the child and the child
would eventually smell bad and get infections. The child would also not be relaxed and
therefore the child would be an unhappy child. According to Hogg and Banister (2001), the
undesired self is build and maintained by choosing what not to buy and by rejecting
product that symbolize their distaste. The Brazilians are choosing not to buy and reject
perfume-free products, since others might think their baby to be unclean if not having a
perfume smell, and therefore believing the mother to be a bad mother.
The Danish mothers have the opposite view when being asked about what kind of mother
they don’t want to be. Maria, the Danish mother who doesn’t use soap on her baby,
doesn’t understand why any parent would use perfume on a baby, since she believes it is
unnecessary and that a baby has a nice natural smell. She believes that parents who use
perfume on their child are bad parents.
“In general I don’t understand why some baby products contain perfume. I
think babies smell nice naturally, so I don’t see the need for perfume.
I
wonder and I might even get the thought about parents who uses perfume on
their child, they are bad parents.” Maria (DK)
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The rest of the Danish mothers don’t call the mothers who use perfume on their child for
bad mothers. The Danish mother, Bettina, thinks one should be suspicious if a child smells
of a lot of perfume. She would think that a mother, who uses a lot of perfume on her child,
would do it to cover up the child being dirty. She still wouldn’t call a mother who uses
perfume on her child, and therefore invokes suspicion of neglect, a bad mother, but she
would consider her not being enlightened.
Marlene also believes that a mother, who rubs her child in scented products with
parabens, is not enlightened.
“The worst thing a mother could do was to rub the child in perfume and
paraben lotion. I think mothers who do so, don’t realize what they do – they
are probably not as enlightened.” Marlene (DK)
The last two Danish mothers don’t believe that a mother who uses perfume on a child is a
worse mother than them. They realize that all mothers are doing what they believe is best
for their own child; the question of using perfume is a matter of different norm and values.
“I would like to avoid perfume and parabens, but the people who choose to
use scented product on their child are not worse moms than I. They have
simply chosen to do things differently and I respect it. I would still do it my way,
but they just have different values and norms than I. We are not all the same,
and that’s ok. I don’t really think about it.” Annette (DK)
The Danish mothers don’t mention the frequency of bathing or the use of soap, when
talking about the type of mother they would like to avoid. Most of the Danes interviewed
bathe their child a couple of times a week and use soap once a week.
As mentioned earlier the undesired self is build and maintained by choosing what products
not to buy and rejecting products which symbolize their distaste (Hogg and Banister,
2001). The Danish mothers have discarded products with perfume and are substituting
them with product without, because the old scented products are symbolizing the
undesired mother and the products without perfume, symbolize the mother they want to
be, are or think society thinks they should be.
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“I have discarded a lot of products which I still haven’t emptied. There are also
new products which I had to get to know and find new products which could
substitute the once discarded.” Maria (DK)
“There is nothing in the products I use for me, my child and out home! Not
even for my boyfriend – I threw all his old stuff away” (…) “I have considered
buying scented product for us, especially for him (Partner) since he doesn’t
think it’s fun to go without, but I haven’t done it because I have become more
aware of what’s harmful to us and what’s not.” Mette (DK)
In sum, the Danish mothers feel that the mother they would like to avoid being is a mother
who uses perfume, parabens and other additives in the product used on a baby. One
believes that such mother is a bad mother, whereas the rest are divided between believing
that such mothers are the same as them or just not enlightened.
Analysis of consumption identity in regard to motherhood (Tannit)
In the desire to be the mothers they have dreamt about being, many women have created
symbolic meaning to their purchases for their babies. One of the Brazilian mothers
interviewed, Juliana, expressed what the most important guideline for her acquisitions
was:
“Most of the products I use have been recommended to me, especially by my
older sisters that have their own kids. I look for products made especially for
babies. I don’t read the composition or anything, but just pay attention to the
info that is highlighted on the product. I like mild scented products for her,
nothing too strong because I think the stronger smell can be bad for her and
annoying as well.” [Later on during the same interview:] “As I said before, most
things have been recommended by friends and my sisters. I trust in what they
say and I consider them goods mothers too.” Juliana (BR)
In the study by Thomsen and Sørensen (2006), the researchers introduce the concept that
the consumption of specific products symbolizes the approach to the desired motherhood
identity. This interviewee’s ideal mother identity is that which she sees in her older sisters
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and that she wants to imitate by means of buying the same products they do. Afterwards
come the influence from marketing strategies, when she buys the baby specific products
with highlighted data, even though she herself understands nothing about composition
description. She simply believes that the producers emphasis on. Last, she takes into
consideration her own criteria and likes, for example perfume, in the form of not being too
strong or annoying to her child.
One Danish first-time mother talks very clearly about the feeling of being overwhelmed
with the arrival of the baby. Mette mentions not bathing her child until after a week from
birth, not only because she was told not to, but also for considering this as one thing less
to think about right at the beginning. This same mother continues posing a further
comment, where her consumption patterns are revealed:
“When Livia gets older I might consider buying stuff with perfume, since she
will get exposed to it anyway. (…) I changed everything while being pregnant,
not all in the same time. I have considered buying scented product for us,
especially for him since he doesn’t think it’s fun to go without. But I haven’t
done it because I have become more aware of what’s harmful to us and what’s
not.” Mette (DK)
She shows the desire to go back to her old ways, even though she understands the harms
of certain chemicals and components, like perfume. Solomon presents this posture as
comprehensive, as mothers in their search for security in this new role rely on
consumption and as stated by Patrick et al. (2002) this new consumption behavior
transforms the real self into the ideal one, even if only in their imaginary.
Talita, Brazilian mother, describes an interesting point in her cares with her baby which is
supported by Porthero’s study (Thomsen and Sørensen, 2006) where she explains that
the consumer choices made by mothers are “visible manifestations of the value as a ‘good
mother’” (Green, Hedetoft and Volkov, 2011). This mother declares:
“I just use body lotion [for her baby] on Saturday’s before mass.” Talita (BR)
In this short phrase, Talita says more than she thinks about her personal desire to be a
good mother, the belief that body lotion for her child is important, but something special
54
used only in specific occasions, and as well her wish to be considered a good mother by
those attending mass in the same church as her.
Also, Brazilian respondent Bruna makes a supporting statement in this regard:
“I buy the cheap products that have the same effect as the more expensive
ones [for herself]. For Valentina I don’t use the same rule...” Bruna (BR)
Also Danish mother, Annette, uses a similar argument:
“Price can be criteria, but I will rather save somewhere else on our budget, so
he can get the right product.” Annette (DK)
The ‘good mother’ image goes beyond the ‘good woman’ one, as they both express that
even if they are willing to use cheaper, yet efficient products for themselves, they wouldn’t
do the same with her children. As they seek always for the best products for their babies
(as illustrated within the complete interviews), that would mean that they would opt for the
more expensive baby hygiene products than the cheaper ones, still if they had to make
economical adjustments.
In a further question within the interview, this same mother, Talita, makes another
revelation: although she wants to give out a ‘good mother’ image, she believes that to do
this there is no need to go overboard with the hygiene care:
“I am a careful and precautious mother. I use the basic things. I don’t use
loads of creams, several products for the same thing – just the basic.” Talita
(BR)
Jennings and O’Malley (2003) explain this posture in their study by pointing out that not all
first-time mothers build their identity by means of consumption, but instead manifest their
dislike of the dominant ideology of intensive mothering by, like in the case of Talita, buy
exclusively that with is of basic care for her child. Similar examples could be set by most of
the Danish respondents.
An interesting contradiction came across during the interviews. Marlene, Danish mother
put forth, while answering the same question two completely different attitudes: buying
55
very specific products that were ecological, without a list of chemicals and not animaltested, but at the same time giving her child a foam bath every other time:
“When she is in her bath I give her a foam bath, every second time. The other
time I just give her oil I the water. I buy product which has the “asthma and
allergy” label and the Eco-label, because I have asthma and because I’m
reasonable consumer. In our house we only buy products which are
ecological, perfume free and non-animal tested, that has the highest priority.
We wash all our clothes together and we use Bio-D detergent. (…) We also
use this brand on cleaning products. We buy that brand online, since you can’t
buy it in stores. (…) It has always been a priority to me that one shouldn’t use
chemicals because of the environment, animals and us. It comes natural to me
to avoid products, which contain these things.” Marlene (DK)
This last phrase becomes intriguing and revels an important aspect of this mother, as she
says that having the posture to buy and use very specific products comes natural to her,
but at the same time she is unable to see that a foam bath, full of artificial components,
that she submits her baby through every other bathing instead of being beneficial is
actually going completely in the opposite direction of what she preaches and has
acknowledged as being the best option for all in her household. Unconsciously, she is
trying to provide her child with a moment of fun and as noted in Mercer’s study (2004) this
mother is still in the process of restructuring her goals, behaviors and responsibilities to
become the ideal mother she wished to be.
There is a general difference between the Danish and the Brazilian mothers in regard to
the amount of baby hygiene products consumed. On one side of the balance, Danish
mothers mention using mainly water to bathe their children, and perhaps the sporadic use
of protective cream, baby oil, wet towels, washing powder, and also toothpaste on a daily
basis. On the opposite side of the scale, Brazilian mothers show to use almost all baby
hygiene products available in the market, including shampoo, conditioner, softener,
cologne, and body lotion and so on. In the theory on Brazilian Culture segment of this
project, Debrun (1990) notes that the national discourse is moving away from the popular
classes, preferring the elite necessities. If this is so, then maybe it is through consumption
56
in large scale that these mothers “buy their membership” to the elite groups, usually
characterized by being the ones with higher financial possibilities.
One similar aspect perceived amongst the answers both of most of the Danish
respondents as well as the Brazilian ones was the wish to read the composition table on
the packaging for the baby hygiene products they bought as a way of checking whether
the product would fit their specific criteria. This is one of the common points between the
mothers of both countries. Below some examples:
“I don’t read the composition or anything, but just pay attention to the info that
is highlighted on the product.” Juliana (BR)
“Before I also just used a random shampoo, but now I think about using a
good shampoo without these chemicals. I don’t know why I do so, because I
don’t breastfeed.” Annette (DK)
[She tries to avoid] “too many chemicals. Not that I really understand what is
written in the packages, but I try to go with my instinct and the main
information on the bottles.” Sandra (BR)
“I have chosen the product I use based on the fact that they have the Nordic
Eco-label, the Danish ‘asthma and allergy’ label and also the eco-label. But
the eco-label is the least important one. I have never bought pampers
products, because they might have perfume, parabens and other additives in
them, I know they might write on the package that they don’t contain, but if you
read the declaration it is in there or there might be alcohol in them.” Bettina
(DK)
[She is a] “little bit neurotic and read all composition facts on bottles.” Daniela
(BR)
“I buy product which has the ‘asthma and allergy’ label and the Eco-label,
because I have asthma and because I’m reasonable consumer. The worst
thing a mother could do was to rub the child in perfume and paraben lotion. I
think mother who do so, don’t realize what they do – they are properly not as
enlightened.” Marlene (DK)
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However, none of these mothers expressed having studied in depth the benefits or harms
of many of the chemicals, components and additives mentioned by most of them, like
perfumes, parabens and allergenic. The source where most of these women obtained their
information was from bias sources, like marketing, layman friends and government
information (leading to national discourse issues, which will later on be discussed in this
project). The only mother that truly would have the knowledge to distinguish a harmful
baby hygiene product from the others would be Talita, Brazilian mother with a BA in
Pharmacy. Below is a description of her way of checking in a commercial situation whether
a product is safe or not for her child:
“I see if it’s specific for kids. Usually it says on the front if it is. I also check to
see if there were made dermatological test and if it doesn’t irritate the
eyes.(…) As I’m a pharmacist, I have been in contact with several products
and have studied their composition.” Talita (BR)
It is important to emphasis that this project has no intention to determine whether the
mothers interviewed are good or bad mothers, neither whether perfumes and parabens
are good or bad for children.
Group pressure within motherhood (Tannit)
As expressed previously in this project, group pressure is a situation all human beings with
social interaction are exposed to (Terry et al. 1999). Mothers in this new stage of their lives
are in a very vulnerable moment, where doubts and uncertainties can lead to a bigger
openness to recommendations and suggestions, and even to unconscious acceptation of
the external pressures they encounter, through mother groups, midwifes and nurses, and
the government as a whole, family and friends (Hoyer and Maccinnis, 1997). One Brazilian
mother, Bruna, tells her experience when confronted with group pressure:
“I don’t feel in the obligation [to do the same as friends], but I have a tendency
to use something if that is working well for them as well. It also depends on the
price: if it’s a lot more expensive I wouldn’t buy it just to show off.” Bruna (BR)
Although she is saying that she doesn’t conform to group pressure, her actions speak
differently, for she does use the same baby hygiene products that have been approved by
58
her friends. However, there is a limit to this group pressure where financial restraints play
a stronger role.
Rejection of group pressure within motherhood(Tannit)
Within group pressure, another situation noted was the desire to do the opposite of that
which is trendy and expected of a first-time mother. As suggested in the study of Thomsen
et al. (2006), in avoiding to be stereotyped by the perfect mother image, some women
have built their identity by consumption patterns contrary to those currently set. This can
be seen in the interview with Brazilian mother Daniela, where she states the following:
“We starting having swimming classes together and I made a vinegar
shampoo for her to take away the chlorine. Around that time, I read
somewhere that the Indians just use products on their skin that are edible,
because all chemicals will end up going to your blood stream.” Daniela (BR)
Here she describes two opposite postures: in one way she felt driven perhaps through
group pressure or convinced by marketing strategies to take the popular baby-mother
swimming classes that have been offered for a couple of years now in Brazil. However, in
this same situation, she chose to make a home-made product instead of those commonly
used to protect form the effects of chlorine. She justifies this decision by mentioning the
Indian point of view. Clearly, Daniela is counterattacking the pressure she felt by taking the
matter, literally, into own hands, as suggested in the study by The Voice Group (2010).
Another mother that also mentions a resistance to group pressure as described in the
study above is Bettina. She believes that her own mother knowledge and one year
experience with her child will be enough to determine what is good for her child. She says:
“Before we used water, soap and foam cloth, but now he is so big and we
don’t believe something will happen if you use the wet towels. The nurse told
us that she didn’t think it was a good idea to use wet towels, but that’s just
easier.” Bettina (DK)
She explicitly tells that the instruction she received from the nurse was different from that
she has done lately, for not thinking this is a harmful choice for her child and also for
practical issues.
59
Analysis of Brazilian Culture (Tannit)
Five Brazilian first-time mothers were selected to answer the interview for this project.
Some of their responses could be interpreted not as a personal characteristic and opinion,
but highly based on cultural issues, specifically the ones associated to the one
predominant in Brazil as a whole and as well in the state of São Paulo, in the Southeast
region of the country, origin of all interviewees.
Fleith (2002) states in her study that there is an acceptance of the social hierarchy and
that the sense of collectiveness is essential. This can clearly been seen when Juliana
mentions the following:
“Most of the products I use have been recommended to me, especially by my
older sisters that have their own kids.” Juliana (BR)
Here, Juliana shows her respect for her older sisters and accepts the advice she receives
from them, not only due to the family relations, but mainly because of the respect for the
ones above her in the social hierarchy. Juliana could not agree with the advice, but would
still do as told as to not disrupt the order of society.
Another aspect is presented by Daniela who shows the acknowledgment of social
hierarchy when saying:
“Twice she used perfume at my mom’s house even if I didn’t like it, but didn’t
say anything to her. I just haven’t done it again.” Daniela (BR)
As not to have a confrontation and is sign of respect, although she disagreed of what her
mother did, she did not express her thoughts on this matter.
However, alongside with respect for social hierarchy, the freedom to speak his or her mind
in the Brazilian society is accepted, for example through openness with regard to emotions
and impulsive acts (Dessen et al. 2002; Fleith, 1999) One mother, Sandra, when
questioned about her opinion on mothers that only bathe their child once a week, her
answer was far from diplomatic:
“Wow! A terrible mother! Vinicius has always taken baths and to not do it a
whole week?!?!” Sandra (BR)
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Bruna, another respondent when asked the same question was a little more subtle, but still
said what she thought:
“She could bath him or her more often. I do think she is a bad mother.” Bruna
(BR)
They obviously felt no embarrassment in saying that they disapproved of this procedure,
even if theirs perhaps isn’t the most advisable for their child.
According to Dessen et al. (2002), there is a great mistrust in the Brazilian government
and some respondents disregarded the orientations received, if any, from the State or
even from doctors, turning instead, in most cases, to family members or friends. Below are
examples related to doctors, nurses and the government. At a later stage, family will be
addressed.
[In regard to doctor’s and nurse’s suggestions] “I read the information, but
make my own decisions.” [In regard to government suggestions] “I haven’t
really seen anything where they recommend a specific product at all, not that I
can recall.” Sandra (BR)
“Never got anything from them” [government]. Daniela (BR)
[In regard to doctor’s or nurse’s suggestion] “If he could convince me
technically to use a product that I thought differently about, I could think about
changing.” [In regard to government suggestion] “I never got anything from the
government.” Talita (BR)
These three mothers, Sandra, Daniela and Talita all agree that they did not receive any
orientation from the state. As the government has a low credibility with the Brazilian
population, they opt not to get involved with direct guidelines to the society. Also, the
suggestions coming from the medical body were questioned and overlooked. Once more,
family relations, which will be further described below, have a bigger weight in the
decision-making criteria.
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Portuguese language (Tannit)
In regard to the decision of making the interviews with Brazilian mothers in Portuguese,
their mother-tongue, a previous explanation has been given in the Methodology section of
this project. However, it is necessary to emphasis that in doing so, the Portuguesespeaking researcher was able to create, as mentioned by Di Luzio et al. (2000) a
intersubjective meaning, in which both receptor and interlocutor understood exactly what
the other was saying, and vice-versa.
National discourse (Tannit)
The national discourses ongoing in Brazil for the last many years, in a more generalist
point of view include Carnaval, soccer, samba and soap-operas. Today, no mayor
discourse has been established in regard to ecological issues, environmental themes (if
not the preservation of the Amazon Rainforest) or chemical additions to household and
hygiene products. For this reason, it would not be possible to affirmatively attribute any of
the answers in the interviews to the current discourses.
There is, however, one national discourse aspect that is widely spread and interiorized by
most Brazilians: their relation towards smells, scents and perfumes. It is a mayor decision
factor when buying products that they have a pleasant smell. Also, it gives a positive
impression when meeting someone that they are wearing perfume. This is other cultures
could become unnoticed, but not in the Brazilian society, where the common way of
greeting each other is through one or two cheek kisses. At the work place, all rooms are
scented and showers are available to employees to bathe before or after work, as
commuting time can be long in the big cities and heat levels can be high (in the summer,
the temperature can reach 40oC). This being said, it becomes clear why all of the Brazilian
respondents mentioned perfume in such high consideration within the interviews and how
much they would like to give the benefits of smelling nice to their children since an early
age, also to perpetuate the habit and tradition of having always a pleasant body odor.
There is another point worth mentioning. Talita says the following:
“My parents, Guilherme, my friends, our group from church whom are the ones
Isabela most has contact with. They expect me to have her clean and smelling
nice always… because a bad smelling child is not nice!” Talita (BR)
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According to Bello (2008), many times civil society associations have a strong influence on
individual actors. The above statement is the second time that this particular mother
mentions the Church, and in a way that leads to the interpretation that she feels greatly
attached to this group and therefore, most probably, she is bound to take in the
“suggestions, recommendations and (…) attitudes” (Green et al. 2011) made by the
church members. The country’s predominant religion is the Catholic, followed closely by
the Protestant ones. A person not being part of a religious group, in Brazil, is seen as a
marginal to society and therefore most people, even if only for the impression of
connection with the Church, go to festive masses, have their children go to first
communion and get married before co-inhabiting.
Family relations (Tannit)
There is a tendency described by Strohschneider & Güss (1998) to try to solve problems in
an improvised fashion. Talita explains how she does this:
“Only if I were unhappy with the product I where currently using, then I would
ask my friends for new alternatives.” Talita (BR)
Her first idea isn’t to get a professional orientation from her doctor or nurse, nor check in
books. Instead, she seeks help with those she trusts: her friends.
Biasoli-Alves (2000) elaborate on another matter in the family spectrum: it is within the
Brazilian families that the family members can establish and develop their socialization
skills. Again, as seen below, the first ones to reach out to in doubt or when seeking advice
of any sort are close friends and family:
“Spoke with other mothers, went to mother group meetings.” Daniela (BR)
“I spoke with several of my friends and got advice from them, apart from my
own experience with my nephews. Most things have been recommended by
friends and my sisters. I trust in what they say and I consider them goods
mothers too.” Juliana (BR)
Note that of all the Brazilian women, the only one participating in a mother-group is
Daniela, as it is seen as a less personal and intimate relation than family members.
63
Furthermore, it is not only the nuclear family that have a decisive role in decision-making in
motherhood. Also the extended family has a say in educational practices and values
(Fleith, 2002). Here several mothers mention different family members. Notice that in half
the quotes, the respondents state extended family members before the fathers of their
children.
“My family and husband, mother-in-law, expect me to do the best for her so
that she is well taken care of.” Bruna (BR)
“I don’t know… Gustavo is always very close to me and we can share
everything, even the duties with Mariana. My family does not criticize my
hygiene with her.” Daniela (BR)
“I am, however, interested that Luisa smells nice and looks clean when my
friends see her.” Juliana (BR)
Last comes the patriarchal structure of the Brazilian family in which each member has a
specific role. It is therefore not common for the father to join in household chores or
participate in the raising and cares with the offspring (Fleich, 2002).
“The father doesn’t get involved.” Bruna (BR)
“He doesn’t get involved.” Sandra (BR)
“He doesn’t get involved in the products I use, I just want him to help out when
he’s at home! My husband has high expectations of me as a mother, but as
long as she’s not crying, he’s happy.” Juliana (BR)
There are, however, some exceptions in the more modern families, like in the case of
Daniela (her husband is a drama actor) and Talita (her husband is in the creative area of
marketing and propaganda).
“We do everything together. Actually, he is the one whom generally bathes
her.” Daniela (BR)
64
“He helps me bath her and is just concerned if the product won’t harm her. He
checks on her skin to verify if nothing wrong is happening and reads all the
bottles of products.” Talita (BR)
Analysis of Danish culture (Rebecca)
The Danish mothers are from the same area, North Jutland, except for Maria who original
comes from Fyn, but she has lived in Aalborg the last four years. Since Denmark is small
and the two regions of Fyn and North Jutland are relatively close, there shouldn’t be a
noteworthy difference in culture (Grundelach, 2002), and this should therefore not play a
role in this project. Furthermore, both regions are provincial areas.
The Law of Jante and its influence (Rebecca)
Both Annette and Mette, don’t want to be perceived as better mothers, than the mother
who uses the product with perfume, even though they believe is harmful and would
therefore avoid using.
However, if one believes that perfume is harmful, it would be harmful to all children – no
matter the opinion of the mother. Therefore this is an indication of that they actual have
another opinion than expressed, and they are afraid to show it. This might be due to the
influence of “The Law of Jante” (Shama, 2008).
“I would like to avoid perfume and parabens, but the people who choose to
use scented product on their child are not worse moms than I. They have
simply chosen to do things differently and I respect it. I would still do it my way,
but they just have different values and norms than I. We are not all the same,
and that’s ok. I don’t really think about it”. Annette (DK)
“I think nothing different of mothers who choose to wash their child in perfume,
it is their own choice. She is not a bad mother if the makes that choice and I’m
not saying something will happened to her child. It is her own choice. I have
chosen what I have because I believe that is best for my child. “ Mette (DK)
Also Bettina and Marlene, seem to be influenced by this law since they are afraid to be
perceived as know-it-alls and therefore don’t want to tell/ teach other mothers, who are
using perfume on their baby (something they consider to be harmful), yet they both feel
65
they are more enlightened in regards to perfume, than the mothers who uses it in baby
products. Bettina would get suspicious of a perfume smelling child being neglected, but
still wouldn’t call her a bad mother. These contradictions could also be, as mentioned
before, because they don’t want to be portrayed as better mothers that others.
“It means a great deal to me that I’m a reasonable consumer. That’s why I
have all of my criteria’s. I hope that others will be effected by it and do the
same. I don’t tell others about it, because I don’t want to be a know-it –all and
judge mental towards others. I have in on display at home” (...) “I think mother
who do so, don’t realize what they do – they are properly not as enlightened.”
Marlene (DK)
“I don’t tell my friends about the perfume free products I buy because I think it
is a sensitive subject. If one of them like to use scented products I don’t want
that to be the one telling them to do so. I think you shouldn’t judge them for
using the products they like.”(..) “I don’t think using these things are a good
idea. Being clean does not mean smelling of perfume, you smell of perfume
because you are dirty. That’s why you need the perfume and that is also the
reason it was invented a long time ago. It could get you suspicious about
everything not being as they should be if the mother uses a lot of perfume on
the child. I wouldn’t call her a bad mother, but maybe not enlightened.” Bettina
(DK)
Governmental influence and trust (Rebecca)
According to Shama, 2008 the Danes respect the work and help provided by authorities.
Nurses and doctors are enjoying the biggest amount of trust, showed by the poll
conducted by Radiuskommunikation, 2011. Maria and Marlene have both followed the
advice given by the health professionals as they trust in them. The nurses’
recommendation have even changed Maria’s way of thinking and therefore also her
behavior. None of them seem to question the advice, which proves the level of trust they
have for the doctors and nurses.
“I would think about it if they said something, as their knowledge effect me
much more. I think I have more respect for them, and trust in whatever they
66
say it is true. “(…) “The nurse talked a lot about the fact that children don’t
need products and that has of cause affected me. In the beginning I haven’t
thought about not using shampoo etc. on a child, because I use on myself –
then the obvious would be that they have the need to. But as she mentioned it,
I just didn’t use it.” Maria (DK)
“She gets her teeth brushed after breakfast and dinner with ordinary Zendium
toothpaste. We were told that was the best to use, by a dentist and I trust in
what he says.” Marlene (DK)
Only Mette describes herself as having less respect for nurses and doctors, the doctor
deserves more respect by her, but his advice should still follow her criterias. It could be an
indication of her not allowing others to know more, about the best care of her daughter
than herself. In other words she is also influenced by the Law of Jante.
“I don’t have respect for whatever the nurse recommends. If the doctor
recommends something I would try it, but not if it contains perfume, parabens
etc. in it. Then I will tell him to recommend something else. If that doesn’t exist,
I still don’t try it – then we will find another solution.” Mette (DK)
But at the same time she describes how she followed a nurse’s recommendation, without
questioning it, this contradiction could be an indication of her not respecting her own
nurse, rather than not respecting nurses in general.
“She had her first bath when she was a week old. I did this because I stayed at
the hospital for a week and they said she shouldn’t have a bath before being a
week old. I didn’t question this and were content with not having to deal with
one more thing.” Mette (DK)
In 2006, The Ministry of environment launched the “Ni gode råd” (Nine good advice)
campaign, about the use of chemicals for pregnant woman, breastfeeding women and
children. Also in 2009 the consumer Council (NGO) launched a campaign called
“KemiKaos - Forbyd hormonforstyrrende stoffer nu!” [ChemicalChaos – Ban endocrine
disruptors now!], which is a campaign about the endocrine disruptors and the danger of
having them around us. The Danish mothers are clearly influences by campaigns like
67
these as they all have been exposed to them at the doctor, midwife and nurses offices
while being pregnant and after birth. The doctors and nurses, which the Danes trust, have
been told to preach these guidelines to the women. The women also know the guidelines,
but they do not all follow them religiously.
“I listen to their guidelines, but I don’t feel that I have to do whatever they say.”
Mette (DK)
“They affect me, but on the other hand there are some things which I don’t
follow, like giving her Iron supplement, because it gives her constipation. I
look at her and how she’s doing, if she seems to be fine that’s how I decide on
what’s good for her.” Maria (DK)
“When I was pregnant I was told to be careful with parabens, perfume and
artificial additives. I don’t follow it religiously. While being pregnant I still used
makeup, but didn’t color my hair. I justified it by changing something’s, but
keeping other things. I was told by the doctor, where I also got different
brochures about what to avoid when pregnant. Just like you are told which
vitamins to take. It is also mentioned in the book you get.” Annette (DK)
They seem to pick the guidelines that fit their lifestyle and discard the others. They might
do so because there are too many guidelines to follow. Bettina seems to be confused on
this matter, since in the interview she states that, she follows the guidelines, but at the
same time states that she has used mascara while pregnant.
FDBs research on the Danish consumers use and knowledge about additives in body care
products, showed that parents with small children (three to five years old) read the
declarations and knew what the products contained. The FDB research has been
conducted with children a bit older (tree to five years old) than the children in this project
(six to 18 months), however if comparing the conclusions of the research to the answers
from the mothers used in this project, there don’t seem to be any noteworthy difference.
In the group of Danish mothers interviewed, all described directly or indirectly that they
looked at a product to see if it contained any perfume, parabens and other additives. Mette
scrutinize the declaration on the internet, but still choose the brand “Neutral” because she
68
believed it had the best reputation and Bettina doesn’t trust the declarations, as mentioned
later.
Ecological Consumers (Rebecca)
The Danes places a very high value on the environment (Neal, Quester, Hawkins, 2004).
This shows that the Danes, out of all other nationals, are the ones whom most consume
ecological products (Hjelmar & Sandøe, 2011). Marlene will only buy ecological products
and it is one of her criteria.
“My criteria is ecological, non-animal tested, perfume and parabens free and
free of other additives” Marlene (DK)
Bettina also believes that ecological products are better and important to her, but if they
are not available she can go without. For her the important thing about the ecological
products is that they don’t contain the additives which she believes is harmful. She
therefore is buying it for the same reason as most Danish families with small children,
because of the health benefits (FDB, 2011). Maria, has not stated that ecological products
are important to her, but when it comes to softener she is very environmental concerned,
because she realizes that harming nature will affect her child via pollution. This indicates
that she doesn’t believe that buying ecological products are the only way to protect nature,
and therefore also her child.
The research by FDB also showed that levels of education were important, as Danes with
higher educational levels tend to buy more ecological products and were more aware of
the chemicals in products than Danes with lower levels. The Danish mothers interviewed
in this project all had a similar educational level, which was a higher education.
Furthermore did the research show that the higher educated parents used less products,
which could also be the reason why the mothers interviewed tend to use a little amount of
products. This also indicates that if the mothers interviewed have had a lower education,
the outcome of the project would have been different.
Labels
According to the research done by Ecolabelling Denmark in 2006, families with children in
the age zero to three are buying most products with labels as the Eco-labels and “Asthma
and allergy” -label. Two of the mothers interviewed also found that the labels were
important to them and only bought products with the labels.
69
“I buy product which has the “Asthma and allergy”-label and the Eco-label,
because I have asthma and because I’m a reasonable consumer.” Marlene
(DK)
“I have chosen the product I use based on the fact that they have the The
Nordic Eco-label, and the “asthma and allergy”- label, but the eco-label is the
least important one” (..) “I know they might write on the package that they don’t
contain perfume, parabens and other additives, but if you read the declaration
it is in there or there might be alcohol in them. That’s why I buy products with
these two labels. I would buy them no matter the price; I would just buy a lot
when they are on sale.” Bettina (DK)
Bettina clearly doesn’t trust the declarations, which she reads and put her trust in the
labels instead. Two labels have been officially approved by the Danish authorities and the
other (the most important one for her) is from an NGO. This indicates that she has no trust
in the manufactures of the products, and therefore must rely on the labels. Marlene
believes that buying products with labels make her a reasonable consumer, something
which is very important to her, since she mentions that she is so, three times in the
interview.
Analysis of Smell as one of baby hygiene product components (Kornelija)
One of the main goals of this project is to investigate the role of a smell in baby hygiene
products. This analyses section will focus on the smell as one of products components.
The olfactory system is one of the primary human senses, along with taste, touch, sight
and hearing moreover women have been found to be more affected by scent than men
(Bone et al. 1999). The importance of smell grows when a women becomes a mother. In
order to find out what role smell plays in choosing hygiene products for first-time mothers’
we asked mothers who use products with perfume to scale from one to ten the importance
of perfume, one being the lowest and ten, the highest. Brazilian mothers scaled smell not
lower than 7. This proves that odor is one of the most important criteria when choosing
hygiene products. However smells is important, Danish and Brazilian mothers interpret this
composition element in opposite way. Danish do not prefer to have this element in hygiene
70
products (especially in baby hygiene products) while for Brazilian mothers perfume is an
acceptable component.
“Perfume has played a big role since I don’t want perfume. The worst thing is
the perfume, then parabens” Mette (DK)
“Perfume for me is 10. A good smell, for me, is essential. I would pay a higher
price for a better smelling product.” Talita (BR)
“8 or 9, It’s high. Something with a bad smell is terrible”. Daniela (BR)
“I also don’t like when the clothes smells of some perfume, because you use
perfume afterward anyways. I actually don’t use perfume myself that much
anymore, because I didn’t do so while being pregnant (…)”. Bettina (DK)
Spangenberg, Crowley and Henderson (1996) research showed that the factor that leads
to a higher interpretation of what is a positive or negative smell is in fact a personal matter.
We can see that some of research participants’ responses regarding the smell are based
on their personal criteria:
“The perfume is important, as long as it’s mild and reminds us of baby smell”.
Bruna (BR)
Sandra (BR) relates good smell with cleanness. Also she relates smell to pleasant and
positive emotions which it raises.
“Think is good. All babies have to have that nice baby smell, lavender and all
that. I think they seem clean when they do”. Sandra (BR)
Bettina (DK) associates perfumes with emotions too, but with negatives ones for her baby,
which can be caused by smell.
“I just don’t use perfume that much anymore. I have a perfume at work I can
use while I’m there, because I don’t like him [her baby] to associate this smell
with saying goodbye”. Bettina (DK).
Annette (DK) relates good smell of her son with natural baby smell but not with perfumes
odor.
71
“He [her son] doesn’t smell, he only smells of baby and that’s a good smell!”.
Annette (DK)
Before, her attitude to perfume was different and it was related with positive feelings:
“Yes, I didn’t think about stuff like that before, before I thought the better it
smelled the better it was. That’s not how I fell anymore; I think that’s due to the
facts that I want the best for my child.” Annette (DK)
Respondents when answering questions regarding smell often mention the strength or
intensity of a smell.
“I haven’t made radical changes, all things have perfumes but jus milder than
before”.Bruna (BR)
“I now give preference to not strong smells as before”. Daniela (BR)
The role of a smell in baby hygiene products is important for mothers from both countries.
However, there are significant differences between mothers from Brazil and Denmark.
Danish mothers relate smell in baby hygiene products with negative emotions. This could
be related with the Environment Ministry position against the use of baby hygiene products
that contain perfume and advises to all pregnant women and first-time mothers as follows:
“Always buy unscented products for your baby – also toys. Perfume can give your baby an
allergy. Therefore, always buy unscented grooming products for your baby and avoid
scented toys”.
This research shows that Danish mothers are really aware of perfumes and parabens in
baby hygiene products and buy non-smell products for their babies. Maria (DK) refused
product with perfumes because according to her it is harmful.
“I stopped buying softener, because that’s all about perfume, but it was also
because it is harmful to nature. But it means more not to harm your child, even
though it also harms her if our society is polluted. I know I can get some
softener from Neutral which is without perfume, because it makes the fabric
soft.” Maria (DK)
She also applies non-smell criterion for baby products:
72
“If her bum is a bit red, I will use some protective cream from Neutral without
perfume, parabens and additives. (…) The important thing for me when buying
these products is that they should fit my criteria’s which are perfume, parabens
and additives free.” Maria (DK)
All five Danish mothers prefer and use not scented products for their babies because in
their opinion perfume is not a valuable component of a hygiene product (especially in baby
hygiene product).
“No perfume, no parabens and additives. There is nothing in the products I
use for me, my child and out home! Not even for my boyfriend – I threw all his
old stuff away.” Mette (DK)
“My criteria’s is ecological, non-animal tested, perfume and parabens free and
free of other additives.”. Marlene (DK)
“It [Derma] doesn’t have perfume and doesn’t have a weird chemical smell, it
smells completely neutral”. Bettina (DK)
“I have never used any hygiene product with perfume on him”. Annette (DK)
The Brazilian mothers didn’t tend to be against perfumes for their babies. They consider
smell as a common (ordinary) component in hygiene, included, baby hygiene products.
“I think it has perfume, no problems, as long as it’s soft”. Bruna (BR)
“I don’t perceive perfume as playing an important role in all of this. I mean,
perfume is just an element that always present everywhere and in everything
…. Perhaps it’s just a thing I take for granted. However, if it wasn’t there, like
shampoo without smell, I would notice it at once!”. Juliana (BR)
Juliana’s answer shows that she do not consider perfume as being separate composition
element in product and she did not think about possibility not being it in hygiene products.
“The first thing for me is perfume”. Sandra (BR)
“Now I use the same products as before and for her mild perfumes”. Talita
(BR)
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Only one Brazilian mother (Daniela) mentioned about the desire to use products which do
not have the perfume component, but from her response we have information that it is not
easy to start to use this products in her country (Brazil).
“I think that we should have other options without perfume or less perfume. At
least here in Brazil I can’t find this kind of products, and if I do it’s too
expensive. I would prefer perfume-free products especially when she was
smaller because I thought that the natural baby smell is so nice that there is no
need to over-rule it with something artificial. There is also the fear of harming
her with something that can give her a rash or allergy”. Daniela (BR)
Thus, although smell is only one of a product’s components, it might play a vital role in
first-time mother decision making when choosing products for their babies. Moreover it
might have opposite meaning in two different cultures, in this case, Brazilian and Danish.
74
Conclusion (Tannit)
This project was written to arrive at a deeper comprehension of the research questions
posed which were puzzling to the researchers. The consumption patterns of first-time
mothers in Brazil and Denmark in regards to baby hygiene products, and the way they
ended up by building their new motherhood identity was the main focus. Later there was
the perfume element and the changes from their woman posture to the new mother role.
Last, the pressure these women undergo in this new life cycle still in connection with the
baby hygiene products they purchase.
Turning back to the original research questions, some conclusions may be drawn based
on the analysis made of each particular area, using the theory accordingly to endorse
them.
The first, and main, research question was: “How do Danish and Brazilian first-time
mothers construct their new identity through consumption of baby hygiene products?” After
the analysis, the researches perceived that the answer to the main research question was
divided into the answers of the specific sub-questions, which actually showed in a clearer
and precise view of the conclusions made in the project.
A sub-question to the main RQ was: “Does smell (perfume) play a role in regard to
choosing one product over another?” It was made clear throughout the whole project that
the Brazilian and Danish mothers were completely opposite in their opinion towards the
use of perfume in the hygiene products for their children. While the one from Brazil thought
it was a necessary component, the mothers from Denmark chose to use products without
perfume and also parabens, making a direct association between the two elements.
Afterwards the following question: “Does the new mother identity influence in any way the
previous and continuing general woman identity?” Some of the mothers showed a change
in their role as woman after becoming a mother, others kept some aspects of their life prior
to giving birth as a way of making a distinction between the ‘woman’ and the ‘mother’.
75
Last, the inquiry on pressure from society: “How does group pressure influence their
consumption behavior as first-time mother?” Most mothers, both Danish and Brazilian said
they did not feel pressed by society to act in certain ways of buy certain baby hygiene
products. However, they did demonstrate in other parts of the interviews their interest in
being ‘a part’, of showing themselves as the ideal mother image they had created, and the
desire to fit in with the national discourses of their own countries.
Later on, however, during the development of the project and the analysis part, some more
questions came up and made the whole matter even more interesting to investigate.
When analyzing the baby hygiene products bought by the mothers, it was clear that
Brazilian mothers bought many products while Danish mothers didn’t buy as many. What
does this say about these mothers? The Brazilian mothers stimulate more the offer vs.
demand economic cycle, but, for which reason? Is there a true need for all of these
products or are they so influenced by marketing that they simply buy products without
even thinking about it? What about the Danish mothers? Aren’t they buying more products
because of their opinion on the harm of parents and perfumes, or is it really because of the
national discourse that the government has adopted in the recent years that discourage
the use of products which could perhaps be more harmful to the environment that to us?
Further studies (Tannit)
Therefore, some aspects have been select to illustrate the further studies that could be
held in continuity to the present project that could complement that which has been
analyzed and concluded now, but also to back up the current results and to enlighten new
and more profound areas that are still to be unveiled. What is the weight of marketing in
the baby hygiene product market in Brazil and Denmark? What leads Brazilian women to
spend more on these products and what to do to stimulate Danish mothers also to use a
bigger share of their household budget on baby products, but also cosmetics, cleaning
products, etc? How does the Danish government benefit from motivating perfume-free
products? Are health issues the only motivation? Is the some lobby behind all of this?
Still in the marketing and consumption area: how are the labels being explored? Are they
being used well enough? Is there more awareness needed? What labels would be
interesting to introduce in the Brazilian market?
76
Also, in a more economical level, how is the Danish market getting through the high
consumption criteria used by the Danish women? What added value concepts is the
Brazilian market missing out on? What gives a higher profit: less expensive products or
more cheap products?
Final statement (Tannit)
There are countless options and directions in which to move based on this initial study, but
the researchers are pleased to see that one first step has been taken to a better
understanding of this particular subject considering first-time mothers in the building of
their consumption through baby hygiene products in Denmark and Brazil.
77
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Appendix
Interview – Bruna (BR)
Interview – Daniela (BR)
Interview – Juliana (BR)
Interview – Sandra (BR)
Interview – Talita (BR)
Interview – Annette (DK)
Interview – Bettina (DK)
Interview – Maria (DK)
Interview – Marlene (DK)
Interview – Mette (DK)
Danish Governmental Guideline (Good Chemistryto pregnant and nursing mothers,
9 good habits)
Interview CD
84