Transcending Habitus with IT: Understanding How Marginalized Consumers Use Information Technology
Ekpo, Akon E.
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Habitus, a concept advanced by Bourdieu, has been of particular interest in consumer research as it captures the habituated dispositional aspects of status consumption. Once thought to determine the consumption tastes and practices of consumers based on one’s social class, there is growing evidence that consumers are able to break free of this social force and escape or transcend habitus. Yet, the mechanisms consumers use to escape habitus remain largely unexplored. This study develops a model of habitus escape by centering its investigation on technology mechanisms marginalized consumers use to escape their habitus. This study takes a netnographic approach and draws on a purposive sample of African Americans who have experienced firsthand marketplace discrimination. The study was conducted over 8 months using in-depth interviews (in both online and offline contexts), in addition to the collection of online archival and field note data. This study seeks an in-depth understanding of informants’ lived experiences and their responses to such experiences. As such, findings from this study contribute to theories of cultural capital and habitus, while contributing to the literature on marginalized consumers and technology consumption practices.