Stigma, Identity, and Consumption

Authored by: Özlem Sandıkcı , Güliz Ger

The Routledge Companion to Identity and Consumption

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  January  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415783064
eBook ISBN: 9780203105337
Adobe ISBN: 9781136253522


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Despite all the 21st-century rhetoric of diversity, most people expect and desire some normalcy – however that is defined by their milieu. If a person is to deviate from what is considered to be “normal” at a particular point in time and place, s/he is likely to face some consequences. Then, if consumption is fundamentally linked to identity, how identities are received and assessed by others will have wide-reaching implications for the ways individuals consume. Identity is not simply a personal thing; it is valorized differentially by various collectivities and refracts back to the practices of the individual. An individual will consume in a manner that will serve to shift the experienced socio-cultural valorization, to make it more positive, accepted, appropriate, or normal, at least among a particular collectivity, or consume in a manner to protest the particular valorization, or both. As consumption serves to objectify relationships (Miller 1987), it helps navigate the distance to particular associative and dissociative groups. Thus, if and when a person is stigmatized, and thus treated with prejudice and discrimination, that person’s experience of stigmatization has important ramifications for the manner in which she engages with life in general and consumption in particular. Moreover, the self is always a social self: persons cannot be individuated outside of their social relationships with other individuals, collectivities, and societies. Thus, identity is always (social) self-constructed in relationship to the others, including things as well as the others who think that an act, a characteristic, or a manner of consumption is not “normal.”

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