Practices in taste maintenance. The case of Indian diaspora markets

Ruben Gowricharn
  • Journal of Consumer Culture, July 2017, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1469540517717784

Taste and Consumer Behaviour in the Indian Diaspora

What is it about?

This paper centres on taste as a crucial driver of consumer behaviour and addresses the issue of how ethnic tastes in hybridised diaspora communities are maintained. The most common answer to this question refers to glocalisation, which is briefly described as the adoption (modification) of global elements in the local culture. The paper specifies that taste is shaped, maintained and expressed in and through consumer practices that need to display cultural scripts and institutional regularities in the lived culture of the ethnic community. Furthermore, the ethnic lived culture is differentiated from the concepts of ‘everyday ethnicity’, ‘cultural norm images’ and ‘invention of tradition’, detailing the home culture, the community culture and the celebration of traditions, respectively, to highlight how script-driven institutional practices sustain diaspora-related taste. Acknowledging that the specific mode of globalisation varies across diaspora communities, this paper elucidates the argument with a case study by Dutch Hindustanis. The paper claims that, despite being a case study, the maintenance of taste applies to all communities that constitute the Indian diaspora market.

Why is it important?

The theoretical relevance of this paper includes an extension of the concept of taste from the national realm to hybrid diaspora markets, an issue that is rarely addressed. The application and specification of the concept of consumer practices elucidates how ethnic taste in diaspora communities is maintained. Furthermore, the paper argues that, although community activities are specific, it is insufficiently underscored that ethnic consumer practices need to be institutional and specific to cultural scripts. In connecting the concept of taste with consumer practices, the paper not only contributes to the concept of practices but also elucidates how glocalization occurs, thus producing similarity of ethnic taste.

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