Women as Producers and Consumers in 1950s America: An Analysis of Spatial Hysteresis

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2006-02-20

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Bourdieu employs the concept of hysteresis to describe a temporal lag or mismatch between habitus and field. I expand on this concept to develop a theory of spatial hysteresis, in which multiple fields are included in the analysis. Spatial hysteresis may occur when one field undergoes change at a faster rate than another field, producing changes in capital holdings and habitus that affect the second field. Twelve in-depth interviews provide limited evidence of spatial hysteresis in women's positions in consumer society and the labor force in the postwar United States. Rapid changes in consumer society may have increased women's capital holdings and altered their habitus, paving the way for the changes that subsequently occurred in the labor force.

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