Essays on the social stratification of consumption in postwar United States and France

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This dissertation consists of three stand-alone studies, which address a common problem in research on the social stratification of consumption: the empirically unsubstantiated theoretical discussion of trends on the topic. In response, the first study uses American data on different types of social ties to examine the evolution of the association between social class and lifestyles since the mid-1970s. It concludes that, contrary to much accepted wisdom, there is no evidence of decline in the association, and in fact, some evidence for its intensification due to well-documented recent trends of civic disengagement and isolation among Americans. The two other studies use historical data from France and the United States to explore the social stratification of a comprehensive list of spending practices. Both reach the same conclusions. First, the social structure of spending patterns resembles a multi-dimensional, homogeneous space, whose shape and stability challenge arguments associated with the relevant literature in economics as well as with sociological literature on class analysis and postmodernist theory. Second, spending practices are organized around classic forms of social distinction, whose grounding in material inequalities challenges arguments about the contemporary predominance of positional and cultural distinctions. Third, the observation of strong and persistent differences by occupation and education in spending patterns challenges arguments about the increasing importance of financial differences or alternatively about the irrelevance of traditional socio-demographic determinants to contemporary consumption. The overall conclusion of the dissertation project is that consumption practices are deeply embedded in the complex dynamics of contemporary institutions, whose postindustrial logic tends to reformulate rather than supplant industrial-era patterns of socio-economic inequality.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2011
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Petev, Ivaylo Dimitrov
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Sociology.
Primary advisor Grusky, David B
Thesis advisor Grusky, David B
Thesis advisor Granovetter, Mark S
Thesis advisor Rosenfeld, Michael J, 1966-
Advisor Granovetter, Mark S
Advisor Rosenfeld, Michael J, 1966-


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Ivaylo D. Petev.
Note Submitted to the Department of Sociology.
Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2011
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2011 by Ivaylo Dimitrov Petev
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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