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  • 2020PradhanPhD

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'Strategies from below': middle-class British Indian consumers' navigations of ethnic identification and intergenerational cultural transmission

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2020
Number of pages271
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date27/02/2020
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This thesis explores ‘strategies from below’, i.e., the strategies employed by migrant consumers in making sense of their ethnic identification in navigating intergenerational cultural transmission, and in interacting with identity mythologies. Prior consumer research within consumer culture theory has focussed on the challenges and difficulties associated with the new subjectivities emerging from globalisation and mobility. This research, however, takes an asset perspective (Roy, 2016) to understanding migrant consumers by focusing on the empowering and uplifting aspects of their cultural heritage, the sense of self they derive from particular ways of ‘doing family’ (Morgan, 1996), and their experiences of believing themselves to be privileged ‘model minority’ migrants. In this way, the thesis aims to present a more diverse representation of ethnic subjectivities that can provide theoretically relevant insights for reconsidering how we think about consumer ethnicity in the future.
The context within which the aforementioned phenomena are analysed is the lives of first-, 1.5-, and second-generation middle-class, Hindu British Indian women. The thesis is comprised of three research papers, each employing a different analytical lens – Bourdieu’s (1979) concepts of field, capital, and habitus; Zontini and Reynold’s (2018) transnational family habitus; and Grzymala-Kazlowska’s (2016) social anchoring theory - for understanding migrant consumers’ adaptations to the receiving society. The emergent findings show how consumers leverage subcultural capital to gain distinction in society, how we can understand successful intergenerational cultural transmission among ethnic minorities, and how consumers can mobilise myths about their ethnicity to express personal ethnic identifications. The thesis makes contributions to our understanding of how migrant consumers overcome challenges by drawing upon unique resources available to these groups. Additionally, by taking a generational lens to understanding consumer ethnicity, this thesis extends our understanding of the evolution of experiences and constructions of ethnicity beyond the dominant post-assimilationist acculturation paradigm.