The Role of Aestheticized Markets in Contemporary Formations of Social Class and Gender
AuthorMaciel, André Figueiredo
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation is situated at the crossroads of sociology, anthropology, and marketing. Theories of the former two disciplines inform phenomena of the latter. The focal phenomenon is the role of aestheticized markets in contemporary formations of middle-class masculinity and femininity in the U.S. Aestheticized markets are those that incorporate refined notions of beauty, originality, and superiority. This process has been a core force in the expansion of consumer markets in early and late capitalism. In addition to opening up new markets, the aestheticization of markets opens up new subjectivities. It instills in individuals the desire to better themselves through the quest for novel, sensory-pleasing experiences, and it offers them renewed resources to define their social affiliations. My dissertation studies the formation of gendered and classed subjectivities using the empirical contexts of two middle-class, gendered markets that have been recently aestheticized in the U.S.: craft beer and knitting. Unlike three decades ago, craft beer drinkers can now indulge in a variety of flavors and premium styles, produced by more than 3,000 breweries. Likewise, knitters can now indulge in a variety of colors and premium fibers, as noted by a number of high-circulation magazines and scholarly papers. I studied these markets for about four years, conducting participant-observation, interviews, and document analysis. The results of this fieldwork are organized in two empirical chapters. The first focuses on the institutional and non-institutional processes that alter middle-class men's relationships with the aesthetic dimension of a particular market; the empirical context is craft beer. The second empirical chapter documents how middle-class women deploy the ideological and material resources provided by aestheticized markets in gender struggles; the empirical context is knitting. Together, these chapters explicate how gender positions shape the way middle-class individuals learn and display aesthetic expertise. The knowledge of these processes provides both theoretical contributions to the literature on taste, class, and gender, and managerial insight into how market institutions can develop programs that initiate a meaningful, long-term engagement with consumers based on classed and gendered approaches to aesthetic involvement.
Degree ProgramGraduate College