A material paradox: socioeconomic status, young people's disposable income and consumer culture

West, P., Sweeting, H. , Young, R. and Robins, M. (2006) A material paradox: socioeconomic status, young people's disposable income and consumer culture. Journal of Youth Studies, 9(4), pp. 437-462. (doi: 10.1080/13676260600805739)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13676260600805739


It is commonly assumed that young people's disposable income reflects the socioeconomic status of their family, those in more advantaged situations having more money than those who are disadvantaged. Plausible though this assumption is, evidence on the issue is surprisingly thin. Using data from a longitudinal study of young people in the West of Scotland, first surveyed aged 11 and followed up at ages 13 and 15, we examine the social distribution of pocket money and earnings from domestic and external work by reference to social class, material deprivation and several poverty indicators. The results show an inverse relationship between mean income and both social class and deprivation at each age, which at age 15 extends to each source of income. With respect to poverty indicators, the finding that ‘poorer’ children had more money at earlier ages did not extend to age 15. Further evidence on consumer attitudes and possessions shows that each is related to personal income while attitudes are not class related and consumer possessions increase with falling social class. The ‘material paradox’ that young people from poorer backgrounds have more money in their pockets than their richer counterparts has to be understood within a context of class and consumer culture.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Young, Mr Robert and Robins, Mrs Mary and Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: West, P., Sweeting, H., Young, R., and Robins, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Youth Studies
ISSN (Online):1469-9680

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