Consumption among young activists




youth, activism, consumption, citizenship


There are two main approaches to study youth consumption. The first one considers consumption as viewed by a group of people of a certain age who differ from other age groups. Cultural differences are not taken into account. In the second approach consumption is seen as one of structure-forming elements of youth communities and practices. In that case, researchers study subcultures and youth leisure activities. However, those young people who are not engaged in subcultures and whose consumption patterns do not define their group identities are poorly studied. The article analyzes the importance of consumption among young persons and examines the ideological vectors of youth solidarity. The database consists of 28 biographical interviews with young activists from St Petersburg. The emphasis is placed on value priorities and the significance of labor for young activists. Thus, the meaning of consumption is considered through the prism of values and labor using the notion of “cultural repertoire of consumption”.  Based on the interview results, five repertoires were singled out: anti-reconsumption, ethical, pro-Soviet, anti-consumption and politicized repertoires. Special attention is given to young activists’ reinterpretation of exclusiveness within the dominant consumption discourse. The analysis provides the grounds for reviewing the content of the solidarity vector and the substitution of “consumption - asceticism” direction for the “critical – internalized consumption”.

Acknowledgement. The author expresses gratitude to Elena L. Omelchenko, director of NRU HSE Center for Youth Studies, and Yana N. Krupets, project manager, for the provided materials. Special thanks go to all the colleagues who took part in the tool design and data collection, discussion and analysis.

Author Biography

Elvira M. Arif, National Research University Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg

  • National Research University Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Russia
    • Research Fellow, Senior Lecturer