Keywords: sociological explanation of consumption, domestic economy, post-war consumption, houses, family ties and consumption
The article draws on material from two classic sociological descriptions of groups of British workers (miners in the town of Ashton and car-workers at Luton) to illustrate an approach to the sociological explanation of consumption patterns. It shows that, notwithstanding similar real incomes, the manual workers in Luton and Ashton had radically different patterns of consumption. At Ashton a striking feature is the quantity of resources directed to consumption with male colleagues (beer, various activities). At Luton families dedicate resources much more exclusively to the house and the nuclear family. It is argued that these two different models of consumption create systematically different kinds of families and friendships. It is also suggested that consumption patterns cannot be understood without understanding the implications for the overall domestic economy: the different patterns of consumption at Luton and Ashton implied different patterns also of work, saving and the management of money.