The good life as accountable: Moralities of dress consumption in China and Romania

Tommy Tse*, Iulia Gheorghiu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Practice theoretical approaches in consumption studies centre practices over practitioners, the material and mundane over the symbolic and embodied skill over individual choice. Pointing to practice theory’s neglect of the role of intersubjectivity and the deeply interactional character of performances in practice formation, this article relies on interviews with young urban consumers in China and Romania to explore dress practices in the two postsocialist locales in consumers’ pursuit of ‘the good life’. We reflect on the intertwining of consumption with this moral project grounded in both the materiality and sociality of dress. By centring performances, we rearticulate the relationship between normativity and accountability in materialising the everyday consumption norms. We tease out the meaningful role of interaction in maintaining and altering the boundaries of dress practices, and subjecting postsocialist consumers to processes of self- and mutual-monitoring on the way to attaining ‘the good life’. This comprehensive approach fruitfully complements the oft-criticised epistemological monism and theoretical imprecision of practice theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-828
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

User-Defined Keywords

  • Accountability
  • China, good life
  • clothing consumption
  • fashion
  • moral consumption
  • normativity
  • postsocialism
  • practice theory
  • Romania


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