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Session Overview
RN05_10b_P: Consumption, Inequalities and Exclusions
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Ondřej Špaček, Charles University
Location: PA.1.2
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 1.

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Conspicuous Consumption of Youth: Evidence from Russia

Karen Avanesyan1, Vladimir Kirik2

1University of Vienna, Austria; 2Southern Federal University, Russia

Conspicuous consumption of youth is an unstudied phenomenon in the Russian sociology. Existing research on this problem in Russia was conducted mostly in psychology and used methods of the psychometric testing. Against this background, our study aims to give a sociological understanding of the factors that lead to conspicuous consumption within a Veblen’s framework. Taking into account findings of the previous international research, we were particularly interested in studying of the influence that a reference group, social class, and status dissatisfaction have on the propensity of the Russian youth to consume conspicuously. Furthermore, we also examined the effects of academic performance and discipline of study. In order to find answers to the elaborated questions, we employed a survey and conducted 600 face-to-face interviews with male and female students in the age between 17-22. The sample covered 5 Russian cities in the south-western region. We employed a multivariate data analysis, particularly ordinal and local polynomial regression models. The analysis revealed that a student from the upper class with economics or law background and satisfactory academic grades has the highest propensity to conspicuous consumption. Although male students tend to conspicuous consumption more than female, gender does not have a practically significant effect. Moreover, we found a strong positive relation between a reference group and conspicuous consumption as a dependent variable. Finally, the study revealed that status dissatisfaction of students from the lower and lower middle classes leads to a greater performance of conspicuous consumption.

Beauty Parlours - for the Masses or for the Classes?

Dorota Olko

University of Warsaw, Poland

Presentation is based on the case study of a beauty parlour in a deprived quarter of Warsaw, as well as on the in-dept individual interviews carried out in the framework of the research project on bodily practices of Polish working class. One of the aims of this project was to adress the hipothesis that working class has it autonomus vision of (1) the role of the body in everyday experience and (2) proper ways how to care for the body.

While physical activity or eating seem to be — at least to some extent — spaces of working-class authonomy, the attitude of the investigated group to the beauty treatments is more ambiguous. Working-class men and woman usually claim that cosmetic treatments and sophisticated practices of caring for body are common and acceptable, but at the same time they treat such activities and services as „something not for them”.

However, for some working-class women visits in the beauty parlours are desirable and the only accessible way to have some time and space for themselves. Popularity of such places in city quarters inhabited by working class is a proof of that phenomenon. In the presentation I would analyse the meanings attached by lower-class beauty parlour’s clients to beauty treatments and the ritual of visiting beauty salons. Investigating this practices is situated in the context of the place of the bodily practices in everyday life and the role of bodily experience in building relationships with other people.

The Emergence of Post-Subcultural Identities in Marginalized Consumer Groups

Marius Luedicke, Christian Eichert, Fleura Bardhi

City, University of London, United Kingdom

Consumer researchers have historically relied on the concept of subculture to study contested and marginalized consumer collectives. Particularly gay men have often been studied as a consumption subculture (Kates, 2002; Visconti, 2008). Macro-social change toward higher social acceptance of gay consumers, however, has challenged the assumption of gay men’s minority threat, boundary work, in-group solidarity, and shared identity – the defining markers of subculture (Hebdige, 1979; Schouten & McAlexancer, 1995).

What happens to the collective identity of a marginalized group when the outside threat that constitutes it is eroding? We study gay consumers in Germany to explore this important question. We ground our qualitative thematic analysis in interviews with gay men, expert informants including legislators, LGBTQ activists, journalists, and market actors, extensive historical and media sources, and ethnographic insights into contemporary non-heterosexual life. We use Social Representations Theory (Moscovici, 1976/2007, 1981; Wagner & Hayes, 2005) to challenge the subculture identity paradigm, and develop a framework of five collective identity positions that emerge under different configurations of society-level and group-level representations. We identify seven corresponding consumption strategies that illustrate how these identity positions materialize in the marketplace and enable consumers to manage a potentially contested identity across time, space, and context.

By offering a more nuanced understanding of market-mediated collective identity positions under fluid regimes of marginalization, our study primarily contributes to research on contested consumer collectives (Crockett, 2013; Kates, 2002; Kozinets, 2001; Peñaloza, 1994; Scaraboto & Fischer, 2013). Additionally, this research contributes insights on how consumer collectives that are structured around inescapable categories such as race, ethnicity, or disability, may manage transitions toward social acceptance.

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