Title

Elite and ethical: The defensive distinctions of middle-class bicycling in Bangalore, India

SMC Author

Manisha Anantharaman

SMC Affiliated Work

1

Author Role

Author

Status

Faculty

School

School of Liberal Arts

Department

Justice, Community, and Leadership

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-2017

Publication Title

JOURNAL OF CONSUMER CULTURE

Description/Abstract

This article applies social practice theory to study the emergence of sustainable consumption practices like bicycling among the new middle classes of Bangalore, India. I argue that expansions of bicycling practices are dependent on the construction of defensive distinctions, which I define as distinctions that draw equally on lifestyle-based and ethics-based discourses to normalize bicycling among Bangalore's middle classes. With their environmental discourses and signage, middle-class cyclists make claims to being ethical actors and ecological citizens concerned about global environments. Their high-end bicycles and special gear enable them to maintain their social status in personal and professional circles, despite adopting what is an essentialized and stigmatized mobility practice in a social context where personal automobiles are a dominant symbol of respectability and propertied citizenship. These defensive distinctions are anchored in communities that facilitate social learning, skill-building, and the creation of collective identities. I highlight the importance of considering the role of ethical discourses in consolidating low-status social practices among high-status class fractions and discuss the implications of promoting sustainable consumption through the othering of the poor. By applying a social practice analytic to study middle-class bicycling practices, this article makes a significant contribution to the growing literature that investigates the applicability of practice-based approaches to environmental behaviors and sustainable consumption in a novel context.

Keywords

Social practice, theory, middle class, sustainable, consumption, bicycling, India, CONSUMPTION PRACTICES, DELHI, CULTURE, CITIZENSHIP, ENVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY, GOVERNANCE, IDENTITY, SYSTEM, AGENCY

DOI

10.1177/146954051663441

Volume

17

Issue

3

First Page

864

Last Page

886

Disciplines

Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Original Citation

Anantharaman, M. “Elite and ethical: The defensive distinctions of middle-class bicycling in Bangalore, India.” Journal of Consumer Culture. 17 (3), pp. 864-886. 2017. http://doi.org/10.1177/146954051663441.

Share

COinS