Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN05_02c: Consumption and the body
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Monica Truninger, University of Lisbon
Location: BS.G.36
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road

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Rhythm and Booze on the Transpennine Real Ale Trail

Thomas Thurnell-Read

Loughborough University, United Kingdom

Ale Trails, where a series of pubs noted for serving real ale and craft beer are linked together along a prescribed route followed either on foot or by bus or train, are now a well-established activity in the UK and beyond. One of the most prominent examples of this is the Transpennine Real Ale Trail which links eight villages and towns along the Manchester to Leeds train line. While Ale Trails were initially praised as a moderate mode of alcohol consumption and a novel way of bringing customers to rural and suburban drinking venues, the Transpennine Real Ale Trail has in recent years courted controversy for being ‘hijacked’ by large groups of rowdy drinkers characterised by excessive consumption and disorderly behaviour. Within the spaces constituting the Ale Trail - including pubs, train carriages, station platforms and village streets - real ale and craft beer enthusiasts are thrown together with these more hedonic revellers, and both come into frequent contact with local residents and hospitality service workers. This paper will present findings from a group ethnographic study of the Transpennine Real Ale Trail and will use Lefebvre’s model of rhythmanalysis to explore these various alignments and conflicts between the drinking practices found amongst various groups of actors along the Ale Trail. It concludes with reflections on the spatial, temporal and affective dimensions of alcohol consumption and demonstrates the relevance of rhythmanalysis concepts and methods for exploring contemporary forms of leisure.

Crossing Taboo Boundaries: Facilitators And Barriers In Women’s Sex Toy Consumption

Cornelia Mayr

Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt, Austria

There are consumers that may prefer to operate in relative secrecy. It may concern the purchase of ‘exclusive’ products that are silenced and hidden. And it may simply concern barriers in consumption practices which are deemed necessary of exploration. Bringing attention to the consumption of specific products that are largely concealed due to potentially inconvenient consequences, this paper focuses on the role of women’s sex toy purchase as one example of taboo consumption (Scott, 2017). Yet, since some taboo products are unmentionable, like sex toys, it seems to be instructive to study how women perceive and buy these products. Hence, this paper addresses following research questions: (1) which motives favour or impede women's purchase of sex toys? (2) which factors help women to overcome economic, cultural and social barriers in buying sex toys?

Concerning the methodology, the paper integrates and extends the theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) as a theoretical framework. Semi-structured interviews with female consumers are used to gather data relevant to the subject matter of this study. In particular, the paper represents one of the first efforts to identify women's motives that interact with facilitators and barriers that are involved in a taboo purchase. Since little research on taboo consumption and women’s sex toy purchase is currently done, the paper can act as a catalyst for future empirical investigations on the role of taboos as boundaries in consumption.

Ajzen, I. (1991). The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211.

Scott, S. (2017). Sexual embodiment and consumption. In M. Keller, B. Halkier, T.A. Wilska, M. Truninger (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Consumption (pp. 372-383). New York: Routledge.

Well Beshaved Women Rarely Make History – Exploring Gendered Beauty of Body Hair

Erica Åberg, Iida Kukkonen, Tero Pajunen, Outi Sarpila

University of Turku, Finland

The unruly bodies of women have been normatively governed by beauty ideals throughout the ages. One of these norms is the “hairlessness norm” (e.g. Tiggemann & Kenyon, 1998), forcing women to remove the hair on their legs and underarms. According to previous literature, despite its naturalness, the body hair of women is often considered unfeminine, and common reasons for removing body hair include the willingness to appear sexually attractive and desirable (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). Since the 1960’s feminists have addressed this norm, yet the body hair of women is still considered an anomaly or a radical statement. Our data consists of tweets and Instagram-posts under the hashtag #januhairy, a social media project for women to challenge social norms by going “au naturel” with their body hair in January 2019. We analyze the data for reoccurring gendered discourses and analyze the imagery of participants in this project to understand their visual strategies. According to our preliminary results, discourses of visceral repulsion are to some extent endorsed by both women and men. Despite the alleged inclusiveness of the #januhairy project, the imagery generated in the project is young, thin, white and ‘pretty’. Moreover, the imagery uses the sexualization of underarm hair, in particular, as a strategy for opposing gendered beauty-related norms. Our research adds knowledge of the appearance-related norms for women and explores the field-specificity of such norms, ultimately asking whether in some social fields body hair could act as a form of capital.

The Marketisation Of HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) In The United Kingdom: An Exploratory Consumer Culture Inquiry

Christian A. Eichert1, Jack Coffin2, Shona M. Bettany3

1Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom; 2University of Manchester, United Kingdom; 3Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom

New HIV diagnoses in the UK have dramatically declined in recent years, mostly due to the proliferation of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), which is up to 99% effective in protecting HIV-negative people from contracting the virus. London’s biggest sexual health clinic, for example, recorded an 80% drop of diagnoses within two years. While PrEP has been approved in the US since 2012, it is currently not available on England’s public National Health Service (NHS). Indeed, a one-month private prescription of PrEP can cost up to £800 at high-street pharmacies, a price inaccessible to many.

We trace the surprising success of PrEP, despite its lack of institutional support, through international networks of consumers, activists, healthcare-providers, and other stakeholders, who helped to legitimise, de-stigmatise, and disseminate this radial healthcare innovation. For example by importing cheaper generic PrEP through online-pharmacies from India, or by educating fellow consumers, the emerging market-system of PrEP has empowered consumers to take responsibility for their own sexual health, and that of their extended social networks, well before institutions like NHS England conceded to act.

Adopting a consumer culture approach, our research explores how these networks transgress and transform traditional geopolitical and socio-cultural boundaries between concepts such as ‘citizen’, ‘patient’, and ‘consumer’. We discuss the phenomenological, practical, and political implications of producing and participating in markets of sexual health products, and theorize how consumers incorporate PrEP as a disruptive innovation into their existing regimes of risk management, social responsibility, and hedonistic intimacy within the neoliberal paradox of privatised public health.

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