University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2017
Event52nd Annual Canadian Sociological Association - Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 29 May 20171 Jun 2017

Conference

Conference52nd Annual Canadian Sociological Association
CountryCanada
CityToronto
Period29/05/171/06/17

Abstract

Individuals can participate in online communities from anywhere with an internet connection, but the men who use online forums to discuss clothes and shopping tend to live in urban centres. Reporting the findings of an online ethnography of five such communities and in-depth interviews with fifty of their members, this paper looks at the relationship between class, consumption and urban lifestyles within online menswear communities. Interview respondents were based in London, New York, San Francisco and Toronto, with consumption habits and stylistic practices that moved seamlessly between urban and virtual space. The fleeting nature of participation in menswear communities and their members’ lack of shared values beyond ‘craft consumption’ (Campbell, 2005), meant that they could be understood as a particular type of lifestyle group: the ‘neo-tribe’ (Shields, 1992). But despite the fact that forum users’ identities were oriented around consumption, they were not the arriviste cultural intermediaries of Featherstone’s (2007) ‘new middle class’. They were part of a diverse group with complex class identities that did not necessarily correlate to amounts of money spent on clothing. Furthermore, participants’ online forums were repositories of knowledge that provided the cultural capital with which members performed a wide range of stylised class identities.

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