By Léna Pellandini-Simányi (auth.)
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At the same time, these consumption norms draw on ethical elements of the same cosmology. These elements involve ideals of respectability and dignity formulated along the lines of presocialist ‘gentlemen’s ethics’ and a notion of just social hierarchy, structured by ranks of more and less respectable people. Moreover, they involve the imperative of care for the family understood as providing objects suitable 42 Consumption Norms and Everyday Ethics for a respectable life to the next generation.
I hope they still have them. This appeared to be a luxury considering our income, but we knew that we were buying these items very consciously, so that when they grew up, all of them would have 15–20 pieces [of china]. The consumption norm prescribing longevity and beauty draws, firstly, on a set of pragmatic ideas about the world. One of the core ideas is the belief in the relative stability of value defined by objectively measurable features that guarantee longevity. Longevity is understood here both at a physical and symbolic level.
The implication of this argument is that differences in consumption norms can be explained – still interpretatively – by differences in the pragmatic and ethical elements of the cosmology underlying it. This is the argument that the next case illustrates by highlighting the differences in the pragmatic and ethical elements of the cosmology that their daughter’s (Zsuzsa’s) consumption norms draw on. Case 2: Consumption norms of a ‘socialist intellectual’ cosmology Zsuzsa Bernát (born in 1950) pursued what can be termed a legitimate career route during socialism: she acquired a university degree, became a researcher and gradually moved up the work hierarchy.