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“We are not terrorists!” UK‐based Iranians, consumption practices and the “torn self”

Jafari, Aliakbar and Goulding, Christina (2008) “We are not terrorists!” UK‐based Iranians, consumption practices and the “torn self”. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 11 (2). pp. 73-91. ISSN 1025-3866

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Abstract

This paper presents an exploratory study of the consumption practices of UK-based young Iranians. Based on a series of in-depth interviews and participatory observation we provide an insight into the identity-constituting meanings associated with consumption practices. We illustrate how individuals use consumption discourses to tackle a series of ideological tensions in their sociocultural settings, both in Iran and in the UK. We describe how in a theocratic state individuals use commodified cultural symbolic mediators to construct and reaffirm a sense of self and identity and also to covertly resist the dominant order. We discuss consumer's paradoxes and dilemmas when confronted with a complex set of clashes between restricting political/institutional dynamics and the emancipatory forces of Western consumption. We conclude by discussing how these contradictions and strategies lead to a form of "torn" self.