Accepted paper:

Shifts in consumption pattern and materialism of the rural poor


Zarjina Khalil (North South University)
Shafquat Kabir (North South Univeristy)

Paper short abstract:

When the rural poor leave their settings and arrive in big cities to earn a livelihood, they choose a life of daily struggle. This paper aims to analyze that despite their limited disposable income, how their consumption pattern changes and leads to their social transformation in the new setting.

Paper long abstract:

Dhaka experiences a massive influx of rural population entering its vicinity, in search of a better life. Although uncertainty forms the crux of this migration, the hope of earning a livelihood does not deter this population from taking the challenge. Although they have to endure periods of prolonged helplessness and insecurity, eventually the law of nature takes over and things fall into place. In doing so, the population starts to imbibe values of the urban setting whilst holding on to some values of the rural setting. This paper aims to analyze the changes in the consumption pattern of this segment in their new setting. The study will focus particularly on domestic helpers (housemaids), who come from poor rural backgrounds and end up working for the household of the more solvent families living in Dhaka. A single cross-sectional survey design was used to gain insight into the lives and minds of the domestic helps. The survey provides quantitative information that will be used to describe and provide tentative explanations into the variables of interest. We use primarily univariate and bivariate statistical techniques to describe the demographic parameters and explore possible relationships among variables. Due to the scale of the study, it can be considered exploratory and ad-hoc in nature. The paper will concentrate in finding out the state of their material ownership at the time of arrival from the rural setting, and how their values, perceptions and significance of the material forms shift with passage of time, in the new setting. It will also highlight how this change in their perceptions transcend to their family members still living in the rural settings, who now have greater disposable income due to the increase in the aggregate income in the families.

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Materiality and poverty