There’s No Space Like Home: Examining the Cultural Complexity of Creating the Space of Home
The home is a bedrock of Western culture, society and economics. Consumer research draws attention to the home as a space laden with meaning and of ubiquitous importance in consumers’ lives. However, this literature also reveals inherent misalignments in how we understand the home. The home is a site for self-expression, but also a site of conformity to taste, aesthetics and expectations of market value. The home is a site for family practices, which may conflict with social norms of tidiness that manifest in the home. The ubiquity of the home masks its cultural complexity. The purpose of this work is to examine how consumers navigate these cultural misalignments, multi-level forces, and overall work of creating and recreating the space we call “home.” I draw upon Henri Lefebvre’s (1974) model of the production of space as a theoretical lens to examine how consumers negotiate the creation of the space of home. Through 21 in-depth interviews with consumers engaged in home renovations, four interviews with service providers and a purposeful observation of home exhibitions shows, marketing and media, my study reveals four major findings which contribute to consumer research and broader theories of space. First, I find that part of the reason home renovations are stressful for consumers is that in the process, consumers configure the home as a reflection of their personal identity. An outdated home reflects an outdated identity. Second, I find that consumers are fearful of an ever-present market-based anonymous gaze in their home regulating the enactment of their identity. Third, I introduce the importance of the role of harmony, as opposed to resistance, in the creation of space. Lastly, I introduce a new role in the market, that of a Space Orchestrator. Space Orchestrators are deeply embedded in understanding the consumer and the market, which therefore positions them to guide consumers to configure their homes in ways that represent both their identity and the demands of the market, thus helping to create the home as a space of cultural alignment.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/15916
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