'Everything is Not About Convenience': State, Family, and Supermarket in Middle-Class West Bengal

UC Irvine Law Review (Forthcoming)

Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 378

28 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2017 Last revised: 12 Nov 2018

See all articles by Amy J. Cohen

Amy J. Cohen

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: March 2, 2017

Abstract

In advanced industrialized economies, planners often use middle-class understandings of how consumption does and should work to justify how costs and benefits are arranged throughout a food supply chain. This Article examines the emergence of large supermarkets in the East Indian State of West Bengal where both the category middle class and the construction of food supply chains are in flux. Via a qualitative case study of a middle-class suburb of Kolkata, the Article challenges the common argument that consumer demand drives supply and, in turn, questions the idea of middle-class consumer welfare as a stable metric that analysts can use to evaluate the transformation of food systems in India. It explores instead how supermarkets act as cultural intermediaries, attempting to connect new ideas of convenience to middleclass female sensibilities—and attempting to displace older understandings of food shopping among middle-class Bengalis as highly skilled, and often highly masculine, labor that involves intensive practices of personal service, community sociability, and, at times, local redistributive politics.

Keywords: supermarkets, consumption, middle-class India, gender, West Bengal, food systems, food equity

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Amy J., 'Everything is Not About Convenience': State, Family, and Supermarket in Middle-Class West Bengal (March 2, 2017). UC Irvine Law Review (Forthcoming) ; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 378. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2926411

Amy J. Cohen (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
51
Abstract Views
421
rank
382,990
PlumX Metrics