Latent Social Class Terms and Consumer Culture in Finland: “Porvari,” “Amis,” and “Pummi”

Edward Dutton


This article aims to make an original contribution to the discussion of the dynamics of social class in Finland. Drawing upon fieldwork in Oulu, Kokkola, and Helsinki, it argues that, although such issues as “work” and “language” remain salient to Finnish emic social stratification, class discourse is increasingly reflecting a consumerist environment in which social boundaries are drawn and recognized through various forms of consumption. The article argues that Finnish class discourse parallels a shift in many Western European countries whereby production becomes less significant to identity— and creating the social “other”—than consumption. Through examination of a number of social stereotypes representing latent class boundaries this paper looks at the diverse ways in which, as in other Western cultures, consumption practices serve to organize Finnish social stratification. The specific ways in which Finnish developments differ from cultures that have previously been analyzed in depth (such as those of Britain and the USA) are also examined and concerted future research into Finnish latent class terms is recommended.

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