Cultures of consumption : gender and home e-shopping in the global knowledge economy
My thesis concerns gender and home e-shopping in the UK. It is a study that consciously takes a critical approach in the research process and I draw on the powerful analytical tools of Pierre Bourdieu to discuss the cultures of consumption in which home e-shopping resides. This research includes qualitative enquiry using a longitudinal study of households, in-depth interviews and an on-line questionnaire as part of the research process. In this thesis I reflect on gender and home e-shopping that implies access to time, technologies and credit in a domestic setting. E-shopping is implicated in contemporary cultures of consumption and I situate this research in the political, social, economic and historical context of the so-called 'global knowledge economy' in which we live. My thesis is largely a critique of the concepts of a 'global knowledge economy' and individualistic and consumption-led explanations of everyday life. I began the research in 1999 at the height of the dotcom boom and at that stage questioned the 'hype' surrounding e-shopping. Focusing on gender and home e- shopping raises varied but more specific questions Clearly an issue is how new technologies have impacted not only on home e-shopping but in the household generally. The notion of the domestication of ICT's is at the heart of my data collection and analysis. I consider use of ICT's, the political economy of the gendered family and the role of the household in consumption, questioning how technologies are used in the home, which technologies, why, when and by whom. Invoking a critical research approach, my qualitative enquiry shows significant contradictions between governmental global economic rhetoric and the digital divide discourse employed and outcomes in practice on the 'home front' By referring to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, a sociologist and critical social theorist, I draw attention to the powerful theoretical lens that his work can provide for Information Systems researchers.