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Changing ethics of consumption in Hungary.

Pellandini-Simanyi, Lena (2009) Changing ethics of consumption in Hungary. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis looks at changing everyday normative distinctions between consumption practices in three generations of Hungarian families and explores the ethical and practical beliefs that these distinctions are based on. It builds on the one hand on material culture studies, Miller's work in particular, which sees consumption as a realm objectifying relationships and cosmologies. On the other hand it takes up Slater's argument that different notions of needs mediate normative visions of how to live; hence people's diverse definitions of needs have to be taken seriously as a basis of a political debate. The fieldwork that forms the basis of the thesis was carried out in Budapest in 2005-2006 with eight families of two or three generations from different class backgrounds. The oldest generation grew up during pre-socialist times; the middle generation was born under socialism; while those in the youngest generation started their adult life under capitalism. The methods included individual and joint family interviews with observations in everyday contexts. First, the thesis investigates ethical and practical concerns that definitions of needs and 'appropriate' practices draw on in different generations. Second, by comparing different generations of the same families, it maps the way practices and the concerns underlying them are appropriated and changed. Finally, it looks at links between private and public moralizing discourses on consumption, drawing on the existing literature and participants' own accounts and practices. The theoretical argument I put forward is that normative distinctions between practices draw on relatively coherent personal cosmologies that include on the one hand practical wisdom, on the other hand ethical visions of how to live, who to be and entitlement, which are bound up with particular self-understandings, social and personal relationships and visions of a good life. Furthermore, the thesis shows that public discourse and previous practices are not simply adopted, but incorporated into personal ideas through these cosmologies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, Ethics, East European Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Sociology

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