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Café Culture: Socio-Historical Transformations of Space, Personhood and Middle Class in Pune, India

PLATZ, TERESA,K. (2012) Café Culture: Socio-Historical Transformations of Space, Personhood and Middle Class in Pune, India. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Café Culture is an ethnographic snapshot, taken in 2008, tracing the effects of globalisation from the perspective of young middle class urbanites in post-liberalisation Pune, India. It captures what was happening that sets this young generation apart – the first to grow up in post-liberalisation India – as a group in historical time, in relation to other life worlds in India, to 'Western' versions and as a rounded life world in itself.

In 1991 India conclusively opened its economy to the global market economy. My ethnography shows that trends following economic liberalisation in unprecedented ways spurred changes that were already underway. It facilitated not only the emergence of a commodified leisure culture in the form of cafés, targeted at and appropriated by the young urban middle class, but also the creation of new fashions, more living space, national and international employment, mobility and economic independence. These tangible changes went hand in hand with transformations in practices and moral aesthetic standards.

The young generation was challenging their parents' and wider society's values in order to negotiate who they wanted and felt they ought to be in their rapidly changing world. In their friendships, café culture activities, fashion choices, education and love lives they increasingly valued, encouraged and expected equality, freedom and the expression of individuality. However, the different chapters highlight that these trends were measured and limited by class- and generation-based practices and moral aesthetic standards which amended rather than negated older patriarchal arrangements predicated on the ideal of joint family life. The young café culture crowd was negotiating to follow their hearts, while preserving strong family bonds and inter-generational dependencies. They were thus modifying what it meant to be middle class Indians in our contemporary world of flow of people, capital, ideas, images, information and goods.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:India; Pune; Globalisation; Middle Class; Personhood; Space; Youth; Clothing; Modernity; Individual; Collective Values; Friendship; Dating; Consumerism; Embodiment
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Sep 2012 10:17

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