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Who has a wine-identity? Consumption practices between distinction and democratization


Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


The relevance of consumer goods and consumer behaviour for the constitution and confirmation of a self-concept is widely acknowledged in consumer studies. However, in light of discussions in sociological theory, there is a question whether this is a self-concept planed individually and connected to feelings of anxiety, as analysts of the contemporary society like Baumann, Beck and Giddens would have it, or whether consumption in the end is still bound to social identities grounded in belonging to social categories or socio-economic position. The question is empirically tested in this essay using the example of wine consumption and the relevance of such consumption for constructing a self-concept. The empirical analysis indicates first, that only a small group of consumers with high involvement in wine consumption considers wine relevant for their identity, and second, that both the construction of a wine-related consumer identity, as well as the feelings of insecurity and embarrassment associated with it are not directly influenced by socio-structural factors. Instead, in the case of wine consumption, these are transmitted through lifestyles and social networks.