credit; family; household budgets; Latin America; shopping; survival strategies; working class




In contrast to common perceptions that individuals’ consumption choices are primarily motivated by their search for status or personal gratification, this article contends that gender, family and class significantly shape these decisions. The study integrates discussions of class and consumption with analyses of family monetary allocation and adaptive strategies to analyze interviews with working-class couples in Santiago, Chile. I found that men exercised overt and subtle forms of control over family monetary allocation, spending choices and earning strategies; adults’ perceived obligations towards children and elderly parents shaped their consumption decisions; and couples’ class-based perceptions of their limited financial resources led them to value thrift and skill in shopping. The analysis suggests the advantages of linking a focus on stratification with attention to meaningful social relations (based, for example, on the family, friendship networks or the workplace) in the study of consumption processes. Such an approach demonstrates how meaningful negotiated social processes are critical elements in economic behavior. I propose avenues for future research building upon this approach.


Original Citation: Stillerman, Joel. "Gender, Class and Generational Contexts for Consumption in Contemporary Chile." Journal of Consumer Culture 4, no. 1 (2004): 51-78.

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