Usage Of Cultural Capital To Link Socioeconomic Position And Food

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Literature Review: Cause Related Marketing

In the post-modern era, where the consumers have so many options to choose from, it has become very problematic for organizations to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Thus, to separate itself from this clutter, companies have now started going in for a concept called Cause related Marketing. Cause related marketing is a mutually beneficial arrangement between a for-profit and a non-profit business which boosts the formers profitability and the latter’s cause. Cause related marketing is different from corporate philanthropy as the latter is tax-deductible whereas cause-related marketing is a promotional campaign not necessarily based on donation. A national survey released in the United States in 2006 that explored how corporate cause related initiatives influence people as consumers, employees and citizens. According to the study, 61% of the people born between 1979 to 1990 personally feel responsible for making a change in the world and 78% of the respondents felt that it is the corporate sector’s duty to take up initiatives that are beneficial to the society. 83% of the respondents were more comfortable trusting a company if it was socially/environmentally conscious.

Also, in today’s day and age when it has become increasingly difficult to get the brand message to the customer, cause related initiatives help a company in differentiating itself and 74% respondents said they were more likely to pay attention to the message of the company if the company was deeply committed to a cause. On the employee front, in such a competitive job market, human capital is also a very important resource which is of a lot of value to the company. Employees today also prefer to associate themselves with organizations that lay emphasis on addressing societal issues rather than just remaining profitable. Hence, cause related initiatives act as a confidence booster for the employees of an organization as they want to associate more with the organization and at the same time it helps the organization in arresting attrition. Hence, teaming up with such initiatives can lead to:

  1. Increased Sales of a Product or Service.
  2. Positive PR Coverage.
  3. Increased Customer Loyalty.
  4. Attract new customers.
  5. Transforming the lives of the people of the society.

Cause related marketing emotionalises a brand and helps create a new buying experience for the consumers. However, not much research has still been done in this field. It must be noted that the above data is based on a study conducted in the United States where the per capita income, standard of living and awareness levels are much higher as compared to the rest of the world. Hence, it is an area of interest to see how such products are marketed in other parts of the world and how effective is the marketing strategy they employ.

However, there is a downside to CRM activities as well. In the post-modern era, consumers have access to a lot of information and consumer has come at the fore-front of every business. Thus, consumer trust has become more important. Gone are the days when there were few options in the market and the consumer had to purchase what is available to him. In an era where there are so many options available to the consumer, a brand has to build a strong mutual trust with the consumers. But, consumers nowadays are aware that brand promises can be twisted and few companies who commit to social/environmental causes are actually serious about them. Amidst an atmosphere of such scepticism, companies should be careful in leveraging these initiatives and if committed, they should be totally committed to the task. Otherwise, there could be huge backlash by the consumers for not keeping promises and could result in a loss of brand image or more tangible impacts on business such as loss of market share and sales. The area of interest for this research paper is to understand what prompts consumers to go in for cause related marketing brands and how willing are they to go out of their way to support these initiatives. Food Choices follow a socio-economic gradient that may partly by one’s cultural capital. (Kamphuis, C. B. , Jansen, T. , Mackenbach, J. P. , & van Lenthe, F. J. (2015)

Bourdieu argues that everyone in life is competing for status which he terms symbolic capital and make use of three types of resources to accentuate it:

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  1. Economic Capital: This refers to the financial stability of an individual.
  2. Social Capital: The relationships and networks an individual forge in his lifetime. Such connections can give them access to certain affiliations and social clubs which help people maintain and enhance class positions in society.
  3. Cultural Capital. Cultural Capital is distinct from economic and social capital and comprises of certain skills, knowledge, tastes and methods of consumption that are not easily available or accessible to everyone.

Cultural Capital exists in 3 primary forms:

  1. Implicit Practical Knowledge: This consists of the knowledge that is programmed in the individual right from childhood. All the mundane and redundant experiences a person has a child has an impact on the way they think and in turn affects the cultural capital they accumulate.
  2. Skills.
  3. Dispositions/Tendencies.

Cultural Capital is objectified in terms of cultural objects such as a taste for art, musical interests, culinary dispositions etc. and it takes a tangible form in terms of the official degrees and diplomas one acquires throughout one’s lifetime, often called institutionalized cultural capital. Cultural Capital is acquired and derived from one’s social and environmental surroundings. Family upbringing, interactions at the formal and the informal level impact the individual’s personality and his/her way of thinking, feeling and looking and interpreting the world and structures his/her actions according to that generative social psychological structure. This is termed as “Habitus”. Habitus is a system which becomes incorporated in an individual and he/she seeks to replicate it in their respective environments where ever they are, which reflects their tastes, preferences and consumption patterns. Habitus of an individual is largely due to sub-conscious elements of the individual such perception, inherent motivation etc. rather than using reason and argument over intuition. Like other capital resources, cultural capital also manifests itself as required by the field it is in. eg: In case of education, it would mean going to premier educational institute or take up a profession which has high respect and dignity in the society, in terms of food and food related choices, it would mean good health etc.

Although cultural capital is relevant in all fields, it takes the form of unique tastes and preferences in the field of consumption. Unlike economic theories, where people as seen as acting strategically in terms of choosing consumption products which provides maximum value at minimum cost, rather resources that individuals value are resources that have been implicitly naturalized in the individual’s habitus that manifests itself as tastes and preferences. This manifestation of habitus as tastes and preferences across a variety of goods and services leads to the formation of different consumption patterns and lifestyle which is implicitly formed to reflect and reproduce one’s habitus. Hence, in the field of consumption, tastes and preferences segment the society based on objective social conditions which are in turn framed by the habitus. Habitus of an individual is framed mainly due to three factors:

  1. Father’s Education and Occupation: Father’s education plays a role because initially when a child is born, he/she inherits his/her father’s social status in the society. This has a deep impact on how the child is treated and what is his environment at that point which would shape the initial habitus of the child. At this stage in life, the child imbibes maximum characteristics of his personality which are manifested as tastes and consumption patterns in future.
  2. Formal Education: A person’s formal education leads him to be more aware. There is emphasis laid on abstract critical thinking and what the individual acquires as an education shapes his future aspirations. Also, education also leads to an enhanced requirement for self-expression which further leads to an impact on the tastes and preferences of the consumer.
  3. Occupational Disposition: One’s occupational disposition leads to certain tastes and preferences which leads them to lead certain lifestyles and use certain products, which in turn shapes their tastes and preferences to some extent. These factors have an impact on the various types of cultural capital an individual can accumulate.

There are 3 types of cultural capital an individual can accumulate:

  1. Incorporated Cultural Capital: This refers to all the interactions and experiences an individual has right from their childhood to adulthood which shapes their tastes and dispositions. Father’s education and occupation has a profound impact on this form of cultural capital.
  2. Institutionalized Cultural Capital: Institutionalized Cultural Capital consists of all the official educational degrees an individual possesses, which shapes the aspirations and dispositions towards the society. Formal education has an impact on this form of cultural capital.
  3. Objectified Cultural Capital: Objectified Cultural Capital consists of all the material possessions of an individual which are used as class differentiators. Occupational disposition has a profound impact on the consumption objects an individual prefers reflecting his own tastes and consumption patterns.

Culture has acquired a different meaning in the post-modern era due to globalization which has led to fragmentation of individuals into unique personalities of their own. Therefore, consumption objects can no longer be considered as positional markers in the society as they once used to be. Also, due to technology, proliferation of products and services are at a much faster pace than it once used to be, which does not allow the elites stylistic leadership as it once did. Hence, to differentiate themselves, the elites adopt certain tastes and lifestyle patterns which one can only adopt after the accumulation of a certain amount of cultural capital. Hence, cultural capital acts a currency in this case, which gives it access to certain social groups and occupations.

Hence, based on cultural capital, Douglas Holt Classified individual in to High Capital Culture and Low Capital Culture Individuals. Holt proved in his qualitative research that variation in cultural capital lead to a systematic difference in taste and consumption practices for mass cultural categories. High Cultural Capital Individuals are called HCC’s and Low Cultural Capital Individuals are called LCC’s in this paper. All the HCC’s at least have a college degree and work in professional, technical and managerial jobs. Most come from families in which parents are college educated. In contrast, LCC informants have working class backgrounds, they have at most a high school education, do manual labour or service/clerical work if they had jobs and come from a family where the father had at most a high school education and did manual labour.

The author describes six systematic differences in tastes and consumption patterns of HCC’s and LCC’s that are structured by differences in social conditions. These dimensions are tendencies of the individuals rather than characteristics of the 2 groups. A central contention to Bourdieu’s theory is that tastes as formed due to regular interaction of an individual with a material culture. The LCC’s are accultured in such a way that they engage with the continuous rigors of material life e. g. : ability to pay utility bills, visiting relatives etc. and so the ability to manage these constraints becomes a prime focus in their life.

The tastes of an LCC are formed to appreciate what is functional or practical- the taste of necessity. For LCC’s tangible or corporeal pleasure takes precedence. In contrast, HCC’s are accultured in a social milieu in which they seldom encounter material difficulties and their education has emphasized abstracted discussions of ideas and pleasures removed from the material world. For HCC’s, taste becomes a realm of self-expression As we know, that food choices follow a socio-economic gradient that shapes an individual’s tastes and dispositions Lack of health consciousness can be attributed to material paucity but there is also a socio-economic explanation. Unhealthy behaviours are not entirely voluntary but rather are framed due to daily material resources. Material deprivation leads to low household incomes and poorer living conditions. However, material deprivation may not be the only explanation and health behaviours may also depend on an individual’s sociocultural resources. Through socialization in society, an individual’s behaviour and tastes become similar to the social class he belongs to. Thus, cultural capital can be used to explain the link between an individual’s socio-economic position and food preferences.

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