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Unraveling Farmer Suicides in IndiaEgoism and Masculinity in Peasant Life$
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Nilotpal Kumar

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199466856

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199466856.001.0001

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The Desiring Village

The Desiring Village

Consumption, Status, and Identity Construction

(p.138) 4 The Desiring Village
Unraveling Farmer Suicides in India

Nilotpal Kumar

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 is concerned with examining emerging patterns of consumption and lifestyles in rural Anantapur as it radically expands its contacts with the external social and cultural world. Using the emic concepts of class and mass styles, where the former implies refined/high status consumption practices and mass implies vulgar/low-status practices across time, the chapter shows that competitive distinction-oriented consumption is the template for local farmers to index their social, economic, and cultural mobility locally and to claim a post-farming identity externally. The newly successful borewell farmers are the vanguard of the class consumption style. This project of adopting class lifestyle on a durable basis, however, involves anomie: (a) Farmers have to constantly negotiate the friction between production-related constraints/instabilities and their consumerist desires; and (b) They have to navigate amongst various ‘urban’ class and mass consumption styles as against ‘rural’ class and mass styles without inviting communal censure, envy, and/or ill-will.

Keywords:   consumption, lifestyle, self-identity, envy, anomie, status anxiety

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