Identity and consumption practices of Northamptonshire Caribbeans c.1955-1989

  • George Watley

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The objective of this thesis is to delineate and analyse Northamptonshire Caribbeans' consumption c.1955-1989. Author-collected and other oral histories alongside complementary primary and secondary references dovetail to unearth and analyse aspects of Post-War Caribbean consumption in a British provincial location that have been significantly unexplored previously. Central to the argument is the contention that identity is fundamentally significant in comprehending and analysing Northamptonshire Caribbeans' consumption. Various conceptualisations of identity facilitated development of consumer materialisations and aspirations. This thesis explores how multiple forms of identity as Caribbean, Black and British people were significant in shaping local Caribbeans' consumption. The succeeding pages address and analyse how these multiple identities influenced consumption and how provincial consumer behaviour was shaped by Caribbeans' relative co-ethnic isolation in Northamptonshire. Chapter 3 delineates and analyses consumer practices and practicalities of Northamptonshire Caribbeans. Integral within these consumer practices and practicalities are changes in consumption over time, intergenerational differences in consumption, as well as aspects of consumption that could be considered 'typical' and/or 'atypical' Northamptonshire Caribbean consumption; all of which are incorporated within this chapter. Chapter 4 connects identity and consumption through enhancing understanding of Northamptonshire Caribbeans' consumer networks. These networks interacted with the combination of identities local Caribbeans psychologically felt part of within various Caribbean, Black and British permutations. Furthermore, such identities varied more widely amongst the younger generation than their co-ethnic elders, a concept which is also addressed. Education and cultural currency are two novel strands through which to analyse connections between consumption and identity. The final two chapters deploy these concepts in an innovative manner creating and developing greater understanding of Northamptonshire Caribbeans' consumption. Chapter 5 expounds on the concept that education can be used as consumption whilst shaping future consumer behaviour, both ideas significantly under-explored previously. Chapter 6 introduces the theory of cultural currency, the idea that aspects of culture have finite, but changing, values and must be shared to have value similar to monetary currencies having exchange values for other monetary currencies. This chapter demonstrates how Northamptonshire Caribbeans shared aspects of Caribbean culture as cultural currency, fostering co-ethnic strength whilst gaining inter-ethnic respect for Caribbeans. Through comprehending Caribbean identity, correlations between empirical and social history, local consumption, as well as educational and cultural circumstances that stimulated and inspired Northamptonshire Caribbeans, this thesis distinctively illuminates how local Caribbeans' consumption interacted with various permutations of Afro-Caribbean, Black and/or British identities whilst representing idiosyncratic local nodes within these larger amalgamations.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorJulia Bush (Supervisor) & Jon Stobart (Supervisor)

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