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Consumption, Identity, and the Sociocultural Constitution of "Preferences": Reading Women's Magazines


  • Martha Starr


This paper shows how the concept of identity may figure importantly into shifts in preferences and patterns of consumption. We explore the 1970s emergence of the “working woman” - a woman who worked outside the home and regarded work as central to her identity. Women's magazines were especially involved in working out the “working woman” image, stressing how products could be used to attain her readily-identifiable appearance and efficient, pleasant home life. As such, they played into a shift in social valuation of female identities - away from those centered on traditional feminine pursuits, towards those centered on intensified labor-force involvement, consumerism, and commodified private life.

Suggested Citation

  • Martha Starr, 2004. "Consumption, Identity, and the Sociocultural Constitution of "Preferences": Reading Women's Magazines," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(3), pages 291-305.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:62:y:2004:i:3:p:291-305 DOI: 10.1080/0034676042000253918

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fernando Jaramillo & Hubert Kempf & Fabien Moizeau, 2001. "Conspicuous Consumption, Social Status and Clubs," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 63-64, pages 321-344.
    2. repec:adr:anecst:y:2001:i:63-64:p:17 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Branas-Garza & Maria Paz Espinosa & Luis Miller, 2010. "Personal identity: a theoretical and experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 261-275.
    2. Greg Hannsgen, 2007. "A Random Walk Down Maple Lane? A Critique of Neoclassical Consumption Theory with Reference to Housing Wealth," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 1-20.


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