Accepted Paper:

Global beauty: attractiveness as a form of value in capitalist peripheries  


Alexander Edmonds (University of Edinburgh)

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on fieldwork in Brazil, as well as examples from other developing nations, this paper analyzes the global circulation and consumption of beauty industries. Much scholarship on beauty has viewed it as a domain that mirrors other social inequalities. For example, cosmetic practices have been analyzed as a means for the social control of women in the West, or else as a reflection of larger color hierarchies. Such approaches have neglected how female beauty can become a sign of the modern -- whether seen as a threat or lure -- in capitalist peripheries. Seeking to understand the local significance of female beauty in relation to the larger psycho-social transformations of consumer capitalism, this paper considers both how attractiveness acquires value within symbolic and material economies as well as what beauty means and does for social actors in different market positions.

Panel W035
Joining phenomenologies and political economies of 'the Global'