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The condition of ‘Cosmo-housewives’: leisure shopping, the mainstream and its ambiguities

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‘Leisure shopping’ is a particular kind of shopping activity that is devoted mainly to fashion clothes and accessories. Women are commonly represented as the main leisure shoppers, and consequently, they tend to be at the centre of shopping centres' mainstream discourses. This article argues that interpretations of representations of ‘leisure shopping’ and the corresponding practice have too often ignored the daily and seemingly ‘banal’ experiences of the social actors involved. The primary purpose of this article is to show how gender roles are performed and reified in high-end factory outlet villages in Italy. It adopts a cross-sectional approach to ‘leisure shopping’ that includes an analysis of the ‘languages’ of two Italian high-end factory outlet villages, the ‘social space’ represented by the same sites and the ‘stories’ about a few ideal-typical female shopping experiences. These aspects are situated in the Italian cultural and political context at the time the research was conducted. Very different demands – such as sensuality, efficiency and motherly care – are put on women in Italy, as well as in the majority of Western societies. The analysis reveals that through their practice of browsing in a high-end factory outlet village, women often reproduce stereotypes while simultaneously trying – though ambiguously – to challenge them.
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Keywords: Italia contemporánea; ambiguity; ambigüedad; consumo; consumption; contemporary Italy; high-end factory outlet villages; prácticas de compra; publicidad de marketing minorista; retail marketing advertisements; shopping practices; villages de compras de tipo outlet

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School for Advanced Studies in Tourism Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna – Rimini Campus, Rimini, Italy

Publication date: February 7, 2014

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