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Mariano González-Delgado and Manuel Ferraz-Lorenzo

This article explains the approach to mass consumption developed in social studies textbooks in the early years of the transition to democracy in Spain. It begins by examining the way in which school textbooks represented consumer society and mass media in the late 1970s. This is followed by an in-depth explanation of the reasons that led the authors of these textbooks to choose one theoretical framework over another. Above all, this article emphasizes the complexity and variety of the historical materials used to represent consumer society, and how this process of social construction is reflected in the textbook content of the time.

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Money Can't Buy Me Hygge

Danish Middle-Class Consumption, Egalitarianism, and the Sanctity of Inner Space

Jeppe Trolle Linnet

In this article, the style of social interaction known as hygge is analyzed as being related to cultural values that idealize the notion of 'inner space' and to other egalitarian norms of everyday life in Scandinavian societies. While commonly experienced as a pleasurable involvement in a social and spatial interior, hygge is also examined as a mode of withdrawal from alienating conditions of modernity. In spite of its egalitarian features, hygge acts as a vehicle for social control, establishes its own hierarchy of attitudes, and implies a negative stereotyping of social groups who are perceived as unable to create hygge. The idea of hygge as a trait of Scandinavian culture is developed in the course of the interpretation, and its limitations are also discussed against ethnographic evidence that comparable spatial and social dynamics unfold in other cultural contexts.

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Ana Horta, Harold Wilhite, Luísa Schmidt and Françoise Bartiaux

Energy consumption inconspicuously bridges nature and culture. Modern societies and cultures depend on intensive energy use from the extraction of natural resources. In fact, the industrialization process required large amounts of energy, but main sources such as oil and coal, have been gradually depleted and found to be heavily polluting the environment. Despite their environmental impacts, these resources have provided cheap and abundant power to fuel technological progress and economic growth. (See Agustoni and Maretti [2012] for a good historical summary of the relations between energy production and usages.)

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Luísa Schmidt, Ana Horta, Augusta Correia and Susana Fonseca

In a time of economic crisis the need to adopt energy conservation practices comes to the fore. It is helpful to evaluate the role of young people as both consumers and potential agents of change bridging the gap between school and family to encourage lower household energy consumption. Based on two surveys of parents and students of a secondary school in Lisbon, plus in-depth interviews with parents, this article analyzes the complexity of this challenge, highlighting adults' perceptions of their children's contribution to energy saving. Results show that parents see young people as major energy consumers. Young people's engagement with electronic equipment as essential components of their lifestyles and their belief in technology as a solution to energy problems thwart them from being promoters of energy saving. In this context of scarcity, parents try to protect their children's well-being and opportunities in life by accepting their children's unrestricted energy use.

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The Krŭchma, the Kafene, and the Orient Express

Tobacco, Alcohol, and the Gender of Sacred and Secular Restraint in Bulgaria, 1856-1939

Mary Neuburger

This article explores shifts in patterns of consumption of alcohol and tobacco in Bulgaria, with a focus on public establishments in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. In exploring both the gender dimension of such shifts and its religious implications, the article argues that public consumption of tobacco in particular both reflected and was constitutive of dramatic historical change. At the same time, the increased consumption of such culturally fraught substances provoked an increase in both religious and secular campaigns of “restraint,” in which gender played a key role.

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Expressive Resources

Knowledge, Agency and European Ethnology

Regina Bendix

Drawing examples from ethnic and popular music as well as from folk art, the paper explores the multivalence of expressive forms as local and European, even global aesthetic resources, whose territorial or ethno-national connection is - due to the power of aesthetic affect - but one among many possibilities of identification. It is argued first that the resource dimension of cultural expression has been furthered by the documentation and classification techniques of ethnological and folkloristic knowledge production, which in turn also facilitated circulation in multiple context. Second, the paper encourages that scholarship expand from recognising a political identification and instrumentalisation of aesthetic resources to understanding the economic appropriation of the production and consumption of such resources.

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Weaving Threads between the Ethnic and the Global

African Women’s Entrepreneurial Ventures in Athens

Marina Petronoti

This article addresses hairdressing as a forum in which African women running small salons in Athens negotiate identity and raise claims to modernity. The specificity of their entrepreneurial activities lies in that they occur at a time when the incorporation of ethnic modes of adornment in Western fashion captures Greeks' interest, but prevailing policies curtail the rights of displaced populations and look down upon their traditional performances. In this sense, my analysis touches upon issues of analytical importance to the ethnography on immigration in Greece. It exemplifies how African entrepreneurs diffuse seeds of their cultural legacy in the lifestyle of otherwise dismissive hosts as well as the multiple repercussions that their involvement in a major domain of consumption have on stereotypical imageries of and attitudes towards the Other.

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Elizabeth Mittman

In the following article, I sketch two major pressures driving this film's peculiar recuperation of traditional representations of femininity alongside the rhetoric of equal rights. The first is the development of a Cold War politics of consumption, which, as recent research has shown, was crucial for national and cultural identity formation in the period of reconstruction after World War II. If, in the 20th century, political citizenship was "recast as consumer behavior," the postwar context of divided Germany offers a particularly powerful example of the complex imbrications of ideological and material cultures. As Ina Merkel's work amply illustrates, the competitive discourse of East versus West shaped GDR consumer culture from the outset. In addition, the implicit tension between the austere ideal of a new socialist producer nation and its population's unbroken, modern drive toward consumption appears to be at least superficially resolved along gender lines. Following prewar cultural formations, consumers were gendered as female, in contrast with male-identified producers. Thus, women could be mobilized as symbolic warriors along the battlefront between two economic systems. Frauenschicksale refers us repeatedly to the precise terms of this conflict.

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Andrea Brandolini

Between 2007 and 2013, real per capita income and net wealth of Italian households fell by 13 and 10 percent, respectively. Unprecedented in the country's post-war record by size and duration, this deterioration of household finances was accompanied by more muted changes in inequality and relative poverty. Only absolute measures of consumption and income insufficiency surged. The more serious worsening of personal economic conditions for the young than for adults and, especially, the elderly is a disturbing legacy of the recessions of 2008–2009 and 2011–2013.

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Introduction

Rethinking the class politics of boredom

Marguerite van den Berg and Bruce O’Neill

Nearly a decade after the global financial crisis of 2008, this thematic section investigates one way in which marginalization and precarization appears: boredom. An increasingly competitive global economy has fundamentally changed the coordinates of work and class in ways that have led to a changing engagement with boredom. Long thought of as an affliction of prosperity, boredom has recently emerged as an ethnographically observed plight of the most economically vulnerable. Drawing on fieldwork from postsocialist Europe and postcolonial Africa, this thematic section explores the intersection of boredom and precarity in order to gain new insight into the workings of advanced capitalism. It experiments with ways of theorizing the changing relationship between status, production, consumption, and the experience of excess free time. These efforts are rooted in a desire to make sense of the precarious forms of living that proliferated in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and that continue to endure a decade later.