Ethnic identification: Capital and distinction among second-generation British Indians

Anuja Pradhan, Hayley Cocker, Margaret K. Hogg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Purpose: This chapter seeks to understand ethnic identification among second-generation consumers by drawing upon the lived experiences of British Indian migrants in England. Methodology/Approach: The authors analyze interviews with middle-class, Hindu, second-generation British Indian women through Bourdieu’s key concepts of capital, field, habitus, and distinction. Findings: Through resources such as Bollywood cinema, and Indian schools for language, music, and dance, second-generation consumers acquire, use and (re) produce situationally prized subcultural capital for distinction from other ethnic consumers and members of the white majority group. Ethnicity is central to second-generation consumers’ identity projects, and their everyday social interactions. Ethnicity is considered in uplifting and empowering terms, and first-generation consumers play a key role in reinforcing this belief. Research Limitations/Implications: Due to our small sample size, limited by class, religion, and gender, the findings of this chapter might not be gen-eralizable to the wider population. Instead, they can be used to develop new theoretical ways of understanding ethnicity in multicultural settings with long-established migrant populations. Social Implications: Ethnicity can play a central and positive role in the everyday lives of second-generation consumers. By investigating this further, we can improve our understanding of contemporary, multicultural societies. Originality/Value of Paper: Prior work in consumer research has focused on understanding first-generation migrant consumers through the lens of acculturation, and foregrounding experiences of stigma and tension. Instead, the authors foreground the positive and uplifting lived experiences of second-generation consumers in relation to their ethnicity. This chapter extends the literature on second-generation ethnic consumer identity work.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConsumer Culture Theory
EditorsDomen Bajde, Dannie Kjeldgaard, Russell W Belk
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
Publication date10. Apr 2019
ISBN (Print)9781787542860
ISBN (Electronic)9781787542853
Publication statusPublished - 10. Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes
SeriesResearch in Consumer Behavior


  • Bollywood
  • British Indian women
  • Cultural capital
  • Distinction
  • Ethnic identity
  • Second-generation


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