Thrift and the value of scarce resources: A circuit of culture approach to the production, representation and consumption of the cultural value of thrift through the lens of food magazines
2015-06-08T13:42:16Z (GMT) by
Food media in the UK has grown in popularity, even during the recent recession; at the same time, the recession made thrift a fashionable topic in the public sphere and popular culture. The thesis investigates how the cultural value of thrift is constructed in the context of food magazines. The thesis employs a multi-method ‘circuit of culture’ approach in order to more adequately assess the producer-text-consumer relationship than is typical in magazines studies. In doing so, the thesis both generates a case study of how the cultural value of thrift is produced, represented and consumed through food magazines, and examines and contextualises the roles of different market actors within the circuit, including both cultural intermediaries (magazine writers) and readers. The findings demonstrate that thrift is a relational and negotiated concept. The textual analysis of the magazines demonstrates how both time and money are positioned as valuable resources within the magazines. Magazines act as manuals on resource management by offering thrift related advice on a number of issues including when to invest more or less time/ money in food preparation, and practices to reduce waste, in order to demonstrate how food work can be achieved within the constraints of everyday life. In the case of magazine writers and readers, findings reveal how thrift is defined through resource management: thrift is constructed through notions of scarcity and the associated valuing of time and money as resources. As such, individuals’ understandings of thrift—in relation to necessities, competing demands and shifting proximities to scarcity— are primarily shaped by gender (especially feminine norms around motherhood and domestic labour); and, for cultural intermediaries, genre and professional conventions. Finally, the analysis assesses the usefulness of the circuit of culture approach to studies of cultural values and cultural products.