"Now I Ain't Sayin' she a gold digger": Wal-mart shoppers, welfare queens, and other gendered stereotypes of poor women in the big curriculum of consumption

Jennifer Sandlin, Jennie Stearns, Julie Garlen Maudlin, Jake Burdick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article, which we present in a format informed by critical performance ethnography/pedagogy, we take up the issue of how we are "taught into" the ideology of consumerism through examining the dominant discourses about (poor) women as shoppers that circulate in popular and political discourses and that work to uphold particular hegemonic ideologies about how to consume and how to behave as consumers within a capitalist economic system. We specifically examine the historical construction of shopping and consumption as "feminine" domains and the consequent negative perception of women as consumers that continues to inform popular discourses about poor women, poor African American women, and women on welfare. We perform a juxtaposed space of academic literature, popular culture representations of female consumers, and interview data from women living in poverty to reconstruct the ways in which dominant discourses about poor women as consumers operate as "controlling images" (Collins, 2000) that perpetuate a "politics of disgust" (Hancock, 2004) that demeans and oppresses poor women. Additionally, we argue that these dominant discourses teach us all the ideology of capitalism, as we learn what is considered "proper" and "improper" economic behavior and use the negative portrayals of women on welfare as foils to justify our own consumptive practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-482
Number of pages19
JournalCultural Studies - Critical Methodologies
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011

Keywords

  • consumerism
  • curriculum theory
  • discourses of shopping
  • gender analysis
  • performance pedagogy
  • popular culture
  • public pedagogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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