Research Goals & Objectives
The importance of my research project and initial objective was to dissect the patterns and trends I saw as a university student at Ryerson. I found that social trends dictated and brought to life the idea of 'status symbols'.
By conformity to certain social trends it shapes social environments, acceptance and who in general who you interact what. As a result, through conforming to these patterns influence and transform one's university experience and opportunities
Initially when conducting my research, the idea of conspicuous consumption is inspired me to observe the impact of social trends. This term was coined by the sociologist Thorstein Veblen as it is used to explain when individuals purchase luxurious goods to publicly display and validate their economic power. As a sociology minor, I thought this term was a lived reality amongst students and within society in general. Social trends and patterns empower and dictate how corporations act to further capitalizes on the idea of societal trends, this can be seen within social media, fashion, marketing strategies, and innovation in a larger scope. Current examples that are at play can be seen through the uprise and mainstream use of TikTok, the rise of the podcast industry and lash extension business, as well as utilizing social media to kick start new and local businesses.
The Process of In-Person Interviews
Each interview was around 15-30 minutes long and took a deep analysis on a student's perception on the active role of social trends. Throughout the interview, participants were encouraged to elaborate on their own self reflections, experiences and reasoning of conforming or not conforming to certain patterns and identified social trends present within their campus and personal life.
Using open ended questions, the students interviewed answered questions that dissected their opinions on their own personality types, opinions on their campus life and their daily routine as it related to their behaviours and habits. In addition, I began to ask them questions that related to their opinions on corporate branding, purchasing habits and the impacts brand culture.
Questions like the following were asked to students throughout the process of data collection.
" How do you think social media influences your purchasing decisions?"
"What is the first thing you notice about someone when meeting them?"
All the participants involved within the data collection stage contributed and spoke on their value and use of social trends as it was evident in their past and present experiences or relationships within families and peers. Many of the participants discussed their conformity to social trends throughout high school as the dynamic and influences of cliques and specific friend groups stressed on the importance of conforming to social trends. Participants outlined factors such as confidence levels, sources of persuasion which was evident from friends, celebrities and online media platforms. When observing participants' responses to personality traits and behaviours, common responses was that despite being outgoing and eager to meet new people they saw that students from their own campuses judge others based on similarities to themselves or their existing friend groups. In addition, students stated that they believe companies corportize student trends by further promoting and gearing products as a ‘must have’ for students. Social trends that were identified were the mainstream marketing of Apple products, Patagonia clothing, Blundstones, Hydroflasks, and trendy backpacks such as Fjällraven and Herschel. The common perception that students recognize are the underlying meaning that labels and brands meant to others in retrospect as labels are symbolic to represent and establish status.
Nicole Aquias is a fourth year Professional Communications major at Ryerson University. Nicole decided to do a double minor in Public Relations and Sociology as she is interested in both subjects through its theories and application. Through the concentration in communications and sociology, Nicole's research study on the Impacts of Social Trends was inspired from her knowledge and interests of societal impacts and experiences. As media continues to be a dominant influence on society seen through a multitude of industries such as fashion and business, it restates existing structures of power. Nonetheless, the essence of this research study looks to encompass the underlying implications and effects of media.
Created with images by Toa Heftiba - "The invisible attendant" • Jordan Encarnacao - "Took this shot while I was walking through the IVEY building for a coffee. I thought this lighting and angle was super cool!" • Kaitlyn Baker - "untitled image"