We need to watch that again: Gaining and maintaining cultural capital through collective film re-consumption

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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This thesis was inspired by an article by Russell and Levy (2012), which explored the temporal and focal dynamics of volitional re-consumption of items such as books, geographical locations, tel-evision series and movies. One of the findings of that study was relational re-consumption, which stands for how re-consumption affects consumer’s relationships and how they are motivated to share their re-consumption item with new people. This thesis dwells deeper into how consumers share their re-consumption item with others. The study focuses solely on films as re-consumption items because they are often consumed together as a pastime. In addition, consumption of films has generally been studied with quantitative methods and within box office context, which is why qualitative studies bring a new perspective to the field. The goal of this study is to uncover practices related to the collective re-consumption of films and to gain understanding of this phenomenon. In addition, the objective is to find out how avid movie watchers gain and maintain cultural capital through consumption practices and how they utilize their cultural capital through them. The study builds on theories of status, cultural capital, practice theory and consumer identity. The thesis utilizes qualitative research method and interpretivism as the philosophical position. The data was gathered by conducting twelve long interviews, which were semi-constructed. The interviewees were avid film watchers that considered movies as one of their hobbies or interests, worked in the film industry, studied film in an art school, were or had been part of a movie club and watched a lot of different types of films. The findings of the study reveal what kind of practices are related to collective re-consumption and how avid movie watchers are able to gain and maintain cultural capital through them. Before the consumption of the film itself there are practices such as choosing the company, describing films, fear of negative reception, choosing films to educate and guide others and using a system to choose a film. During the consumption there are practices such as classifying serious and entertaining film experiences, following reactions and conversing. After the film, the practice of conversing continues along with evaluating the experience. These findings and their interpretation are discussed based on the past research and it is discovered that avid movie watchers use collective re-consumption to gain and maintain cultural capital. They may also have to defend their position within the field, or they may in addition to gaining cultural capital transform it to symbolic capital. Thus, movie watching is much more than hedonic pleasure as consumers are able to gain status from being culturally savvy movie consumers.
Thesis advisor
Toyoki, Sammy
consumption, re-consumption, cultural capital, film, collective
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