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The Protean Quality of Subcultural Consumption: An Ethnographic Account of Gay Consumers.



Previous work on subcultural consumption presents structure, ethos, and subcultural boundaries as key theoretical aspects. These concepts are critically reconsidered through examining and interpreting ethnographic fieldwork and the consumer accounts of 44 gay men interviewed during a study of a gay urban community. Original insights are developed in relation to consuming in a subcultural context. The findings include consideration of the following key aspects of subcultural consumption: (1) contested meanings of gay subcultural consumption, (2) consuming and constructing subcultural boundaries, and (3) negotiating individual distinction with consumption practices. Overall, findings indicate that the oppositional character of subcultural consumption is captured well by the proposed theoretical framework that takes into account contested meaning clusters; fluid subcultural boundaries; flexible subcultural, interpretive frameworks for consuming; and negotiation of individual tastes through subcultural consumption. Copyright 2002 by the University of Chicago.

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