Wearing class: A study on clothes, bodies and emotions in Turkey

Hazir I. K.

JOURNAL OF CONSUMER CULTURE, vol.17, no.2, pp.413-432, 2017 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/1469540516631152
  • Page Numbers: pp.413-432
  • Keywords: Class, body, clothing, taste, emotions, Turkey, PSYCHIC LANDSCAPE, DISTINCTION, CULTURE


This article examines how cultural capital shapes the ways Turkish women, both religiously covered and not covered, experience their presented self' in social interactions. The analysis draws on 44 in-depth interviews conducted as part of a larger project on embodiment of class in Turkey, using the parts where the interviewees reflect on the repercussions of different clothing and adornment tastes. It approaches clothing as an embodied practice and uses the conceptual tools Bourdieu offers to analyse the link between women's appearance-driven experiences and wider class-cultural processes. Consistent with its theoretical framework, it examines the experiencing of tastes by analysing women's emotions. The analysis demonstrates that, regardless of the volumes of capital they hold, the majority of the sample presume that the dressed body' does have value and enhances or limits opportunities, suggesting the relevance of the term capital' to refer to such embodied competence, as Bourdieu did. Moreover, some of the emotional responses are found to be more common among culturally cultivated interviewees of both Islamic-leaning and secular fractions while others only appear among those having limited access to cultural and economic resources. Interview excerpts show that the aesthetic categorisations made by the culturally advantaged, regardless of their religious orientation, are internalised by those who suffer from such hierarchies most, highlighting the role of class culture-driven symbolic violence in maintaining inequalities. The material is then contextualised within the class dynamics in Turkey, where self-fashioning has remained a value-laden domain since the beginning of the country's top-to-bottom modernisation. Focusing on how tastes are lived in the everyday, this article reveals the subtle processes that manifest and reproduce class privileges and calls for an emphasis on the repercussions of embodying particular tastes, which could enhance our understanding of taste, power and cultural exclusion more directly than interrogations of the correlations between taste and class position.