Theorizing Reactive Reflexivity: Lifestyle Displacement and Discordant Performances of Taste

Thompson, C. J., Henry, P. C. & Bardhi, F. (2018). Theorizing Reactive Reflexivity: Lifestyle Displacement and Discordant Performances of Taste. Journal of Consumer Research, doi: 10.1093/jcr/ucy018

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Abstract

Culturally oriented consumer research has predominantly been framed by two ideal types of reflexivity, which we characterize as existential and critical reflexivity. Drawing from our research on divorced women who have been displaced from their domestically oriented, middle-class lifestyles, we develop an alternative conceptualization—reactive reflexivity—that highlights a different relationship among consumer agency, social structures, and identity goals and practices. Rather than embracing their post-divorce lifestyles as a revitalizing challenge (per existential reflexivity) or liberation from a constraining gender role (per critical reflexivity), our participants felt estranged from their current lifestyle and reflexively viewed their pre-divorce lifestyle as a structure of relative empowerment that had afforded emotional, aesthetic, and status-oriented benefits. In reflexive response to these perceived lifestyle discontinuities, they engaged in discordant practices of taste that sought to insulate their aesthetic predispositions from structurally imposed socioeconomic constraints and, ultimately, to accomplish a reactive identity goal of regaining their displaced status as middle-class homemakers. We discuss the implications of our analysis for theorizations of consumer taste and the relationships between gender ideologies and reflexive consumption practices.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Consumer Research following peer review. The version of record Thompson, C. J., Henry, P. C. & Bardhi, F. (2018). Theorizing Reactive Reflexivity: Lifestyle Displacement and Discordant Performances of Taste. Journal of Consumer Research is available online at: https://www.city.ac.uk/10.1093/jcr/ucy018.
Publisher Keywords: reflexivity, tastes, lifestyles, gender roles, agency, social structures
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: Cass Business School > Management
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/19904

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