Consumption, Gender and Class: Perspectives from the Italian Case

seminar presented by Associate Professor Roberta Sassatelli, University of Milan

14 January 2014

The paper considers how gender and class dynamics are implicated and get realized through a transformation of consumer practices and attitudes. The financial and economic crisis has impacted greatly on middle-class families, especially in Italy. Drawing on empirical research, the paper looks into consumer practices and how they get mobilized to face the crisis, foreshadowing a re-appreciation of social standing and social relations in ordinary life choices and options. The re-organization of the patterns of consumption tells us something not only of the survival strategies of middle-class families, but also of their creativity and resourcefulness. Exploring their strategies and attitudes we get a sense of how gender arrangements and class distinctions are getting transformed or otherwise and how the realm of everyday life is linked to wider social structures. In particular, deploying the notion of the “glass cliff” and “futurework”, the paper explores how emotional and moral codes are intertwined with economic strategies and how the crisis becomes a social fact in the ordinariness of social relations.

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