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Durham University

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Colls, R. (2004). 'Looking alright, feeling alright': emotions, sizing and the geographies of women's experiences of clothing consumption. Social & Cultural Geography 5(4): 583-596.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Recent work within geographies of consumption has focused on the practices of consumption as a means to find out 'what people do when they go shopping'. This paper argues that few of these accounts of consumption have considered the significance of emotions in understanding the intricacies of consumer experience. Drawing on material from research about women's experiences of clothes shopping this paper, therefore, utilizes recent work in the social sciences which understands emotions not as inherent or as induced by practices or commodities and instead emphasizes the intersubjective nature of emotions whereby emotions 'are self-reflective, involving active perception, identification and management on the part of individuals' (Lupton 1998: 16). In short, this view posits that the consumer has the capacity to 'manage' or to experience and re-experience emotions in particular consumption moments. Such an understanding offers a conceptualization which does not conceive of women's engagements with consumer culture within a victim/resistance dichotomy, instead uncovering geographies of consumption in which women may feel uncomfortable or depressed in a particular moment but then engage in practices through which they experience that moment differently. These emotional experiences are explored through considering the significance of the spatialities of the changing room, shop floor and the corporeal space of the 'sized' body, and the consumption practices of cheating, coping and connecting.

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