Consuming and Caring
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Practices of consumption and care are inextricably bound up with issues of identity that inform strategies of investment in social position. The ideas developed here resonate closely with those developed in Chapter 2 concerning the relationships between homes – as domestic spaces and domestic cultures – and individual selves. They also connect with the explorations of cooking and cleaning as practices of care and, in particular, with the detailed case studies set out in Chapter 5. Both consumption and care are integral aspects through which many facets of cultural, social and political life may be viewed (Strasser, McGovern and Judt, 1998; Tronto, 1993). In this chapter I discuss the use and exchange value of emotional and technical capitals, expanding Bourdieu’s (1984) threefold characterisation of capital – economic, social and cultural – to examine the significance of family practices of consumption and care as assets for changing the material bases of existence. The discussion focuses on two of the ethnographic case studies to illustrate connections between family practices and personal assets as resources for social positioning. The material environment desired and achieved (or not achieved) by the individuals involve practices as a sort of ‘script for action’ in the terms developed by actor-network theory (ANT) (Akrich, 1992).
KeywordsMicrowave Oven Social Position Cultural Capital Emotional Labour Front Door
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