Retailing retro: Class, cultural capital and the material practices of the (re)valuation of style

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Abstract

When retro retailers buy and sell goods they are appropriating and recontextualising objects and styles both symbolically and materially. Through knowledge and practices they change the value of items from everyday and old-fashioned to unique and desirable. In this process of value creation, retailers mediate between production and consumption and translate and evaluate other cultures. As such, their role fits well with past theorisations of cultural intermediaries. Using ethnographic research conducted with eight retailers of retro furniture and 12 retro enthusiasts between 2006 and 2010 in the UK, this article reflects on the usefulness of the concept of the cultural intermediary. Through a discussion of the practices and identities of retro retailers it is argued that studies of cultural intermediaries can be enriched by examining the relationships that intermediaries have with the producers and consumers to whom they mediate, as well as improved by exploring the spaces and materialities of mediation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-641
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Class
  • cultural capital
  • cultural intermediaries
  • materiality
  • retailing
  • retro
  • value

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