MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Everyday consumption norms as discourses of the good life in pre-socialist and socialist Hungary

Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


Everyday consumption norms are abundantly evident in empirical studies, yet focussed theoretical discussion is lacking. This article fills this gap by proposing three theoretical points, developed through the case study of changing personal consumption norms and public moralizing in pre-war and socialist Hungary. It suggests first that consumption norms draw on cosmologies that involve pragmatic beliefs alongside strong evaluations which refer to ethical visions of how to live and who to be. Second, it shows that many of these ethical visions are embedded in practices as practical ethics rather than being articulated in abstract terms. Finally, it argues that personal consumption norms are simultaneously subject to individual appropriation and constrained by collective discursive and practical conventions. Thus, norms serve as a terrain through which shared ethical visions and pragmatic beliefs are negotiated and modified.