The Quantity of Style: Imaginary Consumption in the New Russia

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    Abstract

    This article analyses 178 essays written in April 1997, in which Siberian students (15-22-year-olds) described their understandings of Soviet and post-Soviet realities. The main change between the two regimes is perceived in these essays as the change in patterns of consumption. Moreover, as the essays indicate, the new Russian style of consumption, usually associated with the style of the new rich classes in Russia, finds its fullest representation in the figure of the ‘new Russian’ man. The article suggests that students' attempts to envision unfamiliar patterns of wealthy consumption bring with them the reproduction of their own cultural dispositions and habits. Being unable to easily come up with adequate cultural signifiers that could homologically represent the distinctive economic location of the new rich, students chose to follow the path of quantitative rather than qualitative representation, expressing ‘the taste of luxury’ in terms of the ‘taste of necessity’. Along with this subjective factor, that is, the students' own cultural dispositions, the prominence of the quantitative factor in their descriptions of the new Russian style of consumption is determined by the absence of a developed field of post-Soviet cultural production, which could have provided the new Russian style with distinctive status symbols.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)97-120
    Number of pages24
    JournalTheory, Culture and Society
    Volume17
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Oct 2000

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • General Social Sciences

    Keywords

    • cultural production
    • gender
    • post-soviet
    • projection
    • symbolic shortage

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