9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN05 Sociology of Consumption

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Possibilities to consume? Building II, C5.02

Between singularities and contexts: the (relative) autonomy of cultural consumption

The aim of this paper is to present a sociological portrait (Lahire, 2004) of a woman born in a family with low economic and culture capital (Bourdieu, 1979), but highly politicized. In order to draw the portrait we use biographical interviews that focus on several socializations (e.g. family, school, work, friends and leisure time), contextual interactions, others significant as well as consumption practices.

The study shows that both the socialization context and the social capital are important to overcome the limits of materialistic social conditions. It also emphasizes the need to re-elaborate the concept of cultural capital, namely at the level of the substantive theory on popular cultures (Costa, 1999). Furthermore, the portrait reveals moments of ?biographical ruptures? that correspond to changes in her trajectory such as marriage, divorce, immigration and change of job, which highlight the adjust in behaviour according to specific social contexts. Also, the duality of social roles (wife and mother vs. worker) becomes visible.

Since childhood, she developed a taste for cultural consumption (books, cinema, exhibition, museums) that was fostered by her father and godmother. Despite her income, she always managed to develop strategies that allowed her to consume this type of good. Therefore we observe that in contemporary societies cultural consumption is not dependent on economic capital.