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How is the transformation of consumer culture related to the urban reshaping of the city of Cairo as it rises to the demands of globalization? This study analyzes the shift from a socialist economy in Egypt to a more open market model, and the effect this has had on the everyday life of the country’s middle classes.
It attempts to weave a personal narrative in with archival work to portray some of the patterns of consumption during the 1960s and the transformations that followed, touching on changing lifestyles and conspicuous consumption, gated communities and secondary resorts, and the spread of mobile telephones and coffeeshops.
The expanding local fashion industry of ethnic and Islamic chic, the ‘folklorization of culture’ through the flowering tourist industry, the growth of local crafts, the boom in shopping malls and the mar-ginalization of Cairo’s slum residents, and plastic surgery and the body as a site of consumption are all analyzed. This new study attempts to highlight the paradoxes pertaining to the democratizing effects of consumer culture while taking into account Egypt’s increasing class polarization.
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