Accepted Paper:

Rethinking distinction: stories of marginality and horizontal distinction in Lima's political blogosphere  


Franka Winter (Maynooth University)

Paper Short Abstract:

The paper addresses the need to rethink distinction in Latin American middle-class research, drawing on a study of Lima's political blogosphere.Bloggers used stories of marginality and power to construct their identities and negotiate authority. These can be seen as horizontal distinction.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on a research project on the political blogosphere of Lima, a space that is mainly populated by members of the upper middle classes, this paper argues that we need to rethink distinction in Latin American middle-class research. Distinction in this field is almost always seen as vertical (inter-class) distinction, stressing status-consciousness and the desire of middle-class people to move up in life. Asking how bloggers used practices of distinction to construct their own identities and negotiate authority within the blogosphere, the paper argues that distinction operated both vertically and horizontally. Focussing on the latter, the paper argues that bloggers used 'narratives of marginality' to position themselves on the relative margins in relationship to their peers within the blogosphere. I suggest that this can be seen as a form of horizontal distinction, which allows middle-class people to manage the moral ambivalence of being relatively privileged in a highly unequal society and to make claims for discursive authority and credibility.

Panel P24
Cultural and political praxes, ideas and subjectivities in the Latin American upper classes