Talking race, marketing culture: The racial habitus in and out of apartheid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This article uses the concept of habitus to address the puzzle of past-in-present racial formations. Although formal ideologies of white supremacy may be suddenly overturned, the embodied dispositions of the habitus should prove durable and may even improvise new practices that transpose old racial schemata into new settings. Evidence for these propositions derives from an ethnography of marketing practices inside a leisure frm in postapartheid South Africa. In the organizational backstage, veteran white managers routinely categorize consumers as desired "whities" versus denigrated "darkies." But a second discourse of marketing, found in the frontstage, uses survey data to divide the market into "blue-collar" and "jazz" types. By structuring marketing strategy to attract the former and repel the latter, managers exclude black consumers and euphemize such exclusion vis-à-vis the state and other public audiences. Findings extend not only racial formation theory, but also U.S.-based understandings of discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-314
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Discrimination
  • Habitus
  • Marketing
  • Racial formations
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Talking race, marketing culture: The racial habitus in and out of apartheid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this