Divergent narratives in the imagining of the home amongst middle-class consumers: aesthetics, comfort and the symbolic boundaries of self and home
Sociological research on consumption has typically emphasized the social 'work' done by consuming things, showing how consumption expresses social identities, symbolizes class and status, and assists in delineating cultural boundaries and networks. In contrast, there are relatively few studies that explore consumption from the viewpoint of actors, seeking to expose the strategies, narratives and accounts that literally constitute the consumption act. Using interview data collected from a sample of middle-class Australian householders on practices of home decoration, this article explores the way consumption practice is linked to imagination and narrative. While the style and design features of the home have been a site for frenetic commodification within Australia, these data demonstrate that people's desires with regard to how their home is presented and understood differ markedly, with some respondents emphasizing conspicuousness and style, and others comfort and relaxation. These narratives are interpreted as markers that socially mediate symbolic boundaries of self.
Journal of Sociology
Copyright 2003 Sage Publications. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. First published in Journal of Sociology. This journal is available online: http://jos.sagepub.com/content/vol39/issue4/