The Social Construction of Poverty and the Meaning of Deprivation: An Ethnographic Exploration of Mobile Home Park Residents
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Poverty is an important socio-economic problem with serious negative consequences for consumers worldwide. Currently, there are approximately 57 million Americans considered as the "marginal poor" and 37 million Americans categorized as the "extreme poor" (Newman and Chen 2007). The nuances between these two different forms of impoverishment as well as other forms of poverty (e.g., the urban poor, the rural poor, the immigrant poor) highlight the multi-dimensional and dynamic nature of poverty with economic, social, cultural, motivational, and even political aspects (Chakravarti 2006). Despite the importance of this research domain, little research in marketing has examined multiple faces of poverty and the ways impoverished consumers socially construct the meaning of deprivation. This research offers the first in-depth ethnographic investigation exploring different social constructions of poverty and multiple social identities adopted by the poor within the same geographically bounded setting. While much of the current conceptualization of poverty in the consumer research literature explore poverty from a structural perspective and assume that the poor share a collective social identity, I suggest an alternate conceptualization of poverty that includes the poor consumer's coping strategies and resources, perceptions of various forms of deprivation, and agency construction through five distinct social identities. The Association for Consumer Research through the Sheth Foundation (http://www.acrweb.org) and the American Marketing Association (http://www.marketingpower.com) provided financial support for this research in the form of dissertation grants.
- Doctoral Dissertations