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Ethnic Identification: Capital and Distinction Among Second-Generation British Indians

Consumer Culture Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78754-286-0, eISBN: 978-1-78754-285-3

Publication date: 10 April 2019


Purpose: This chapter seeks to understand ethnic identification among second-generation consumers by drawing upon the lived experiences of British Indian migrants in England.

Methodology/Approach: The authors analyze interviews with middle-class, Hindu, second-generation British Indian women through Bourdieu’s key concepts of capital, field, habitus, and distinction.

Findings: Through resources such as Bollywood cinema, and Indian schools for language, music, and dance, second-generation consumers acquire, use and (re) produce situationally prized subcultural capital for distinction from other ethnic consumers and members of the white majority group. Ethnicity is central to second-generation consumers’ identity projects, and their everyday social interactions. Ethnicity is considered in uplifting and empowering terms, and first-generation consumers play a key role in reinforcing this belief.

Research Limitations/Implications: Due to our small sample size, limited by class, religion, and gender, the findings of this chapter might not be generalizable to the wider population. Instead, they can be used to develop new theoretical ways of understanding ethnicity in multicultural settings with long-established migrant populations.

Social Implications: Ethnicity can play a central and positive role in the everyday lives of second-generation consumers. By investigating this further, we can improve our understanding of contemporary, multicultural societies.

Originality/Value of Paper: Prior work in consumer research has focused on understanding first-generation migrant consumers through the lens of acculturation, and foregrounding experiences of stigma and tension. Instead, the authors foreground the positive and uplifting lived experiences of second-generation consumers in relation to their ethnicity. This chapter extends the literature on second-generation ethnic consumer identity work.




We would like to thank our informants for their time and participation, two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments, Fulgoni funding for offering financial support, and Mrs & Mr Pradhan for offering every possible type of support.


Pradhan, A., Cocker, H. and Hogg, M.K. (2019), "Ethnic Identification: Capital and Distinction Among Second-Generation British Indians", Bajde, D., Kjeldgaard, D. and Belk, R.W. (Ed.) Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 85-101.



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