Nödvändighetens pris - Konsumtion och knapphet bland barnfamiljer

Detta är en avhandling från School of Social Work

Sammanfattning: The object of this thesis has been to study the relationship between consumption and economic scarcity from a theoretical perspective. I have used families with children as an empirical example to illustrate the theoretical framework. There are two main questions: The first focuses on the structures that create specific conditions for low-income consumers. The second relates to how the households cope with the fact that they live with scarce financial resources in comparison to other groups of households in a consumer society. My theoretical framework is mostly a combination of three theoretical fields. The first field deals with how low-income consumers in a structural meaning are discriminated against in different ways. I have adopted these research results, which have mainly come from the US, and used them in a Swedish context. The second field consists of theories that have been developed in disciplines such as sociology, anthropology and cultural theory. These theories discuss consumption from several perspectives but I have mainly concentrated on two issues. The first issue deals with the increased significance of consumption in society. The second issue is that of the symbolic meaning of consumption. The third theoretical field is dealing with welfare which involves concepts such as exclusion, inclusion and marginalization. In my opinion, research into consumption has not paid enough attention to groups that tend to be marginalized in society and do not have the financial resources to be part of the consumer society to the same degree as others. The study has primarily been a contribution to the understanding of the relationships that link consumption and financial scarcity from a theoretical perspective. However I am also interested in the appearance of these mechanisms in the everyday life of the households. I have therefore chosen to examine the theoretical framework through the empirical material. The empirical material includes four qualitative studies. Three of the studies are based on interviews and one on questionnaires. The studies indicate that that the position which the households have in relation to the labour market and the welfare security system is crucial to the household’s possibilities as consumers. A marginalized or excluded position in these fields also tends to hinder and raise barriers in the consumer field. The mechanisms in the field of consumption can therefore be understood as interrelated to those which create processes of inclusion or exclusion in other fields. The consumer field has also its own mechanisms that create different possibilities for different groups. Households with scarce financial resources mainly face three different mechanisms that in different ways restrict their possibilities as consumers. The families in my studies developed different strategies or ways of managing the feeling of being trapped. In their struggle to meet the needs of basic necessities and at the same time attempting to keep up with social necessities they acted and reasoned for the most part in five different ways.

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