Self-worth and aspirations through austerity times: inputs from a pre-crisis ethnography of domestic life and consumption
(Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper, I explore the relation between domestic life and everyday consumption in Madrid in the years that preceded the financial crisis in Spain and ideas and practices concerning self-worth and aspirations of my interlocutors in the present.
Paper long abstract:
During the mid 2000s I carried out an ethnographic project in Madrid in which I addressed the ways in which domestic life and consumption constituted fundamental -if overlooked- aspects of the senses of personhood, sociality, and life in the city more broadly. In those days, during the housing bubble in Spain, my interlocutors belonging to the young generation of adults expressed discomfort and distrust towards their political leaders and financial system, while they were sceptic about their possibilities of reaching their parents' quality of life and material achievements in the future. These feelings operated as the background of a generation of adults orchestrating their lives with parental support of various kinds including money, housing, childcare and food.
The 2008 crisis and then the 15M Movement hit the lives of these persons in various relevant ways, marking their biographies and life trajectories in identifiable "before and after". At a distance, I have maintained contact with many of them for more than a decade, observing their various ways of moving and staying through migration or long periods of unemployment. I have also heard many stories about everyday adjustments involving the present and the future. In this paper I the ways in which pre crisis domestic life, consumption and a specific sense of co-presence can inform current senses of self-worth of these interlocutors. I pay close attention to the notion of aspiration as a heuristic tool for understanding continuity and change in the life trajectories of Madrid inhabitants.
Styles of domestic life: austerity and self-worth