Accumulating capital through social media: The transformative power of underrepresented fashion consumers


Previous research in sociology, psychology and fashion studies has investigated the concept of diversity in the fashion context, but the topic remains largely understudied within the realm of consumer research. This study aims to examine the reactions of underrepresented women to the fashion industry’s lack of diversity.

A total of 38 semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted among a sample of female consumers who were diverse with respect to racial and ethnic background, socioeconomic class, religion, sexual orientation, age, body type and physical appearance.

Using Bourdieu’s forms of capital – social, cultural, economic and symbolic – the findings shed light on the process of virtual community formation on social media in response to the lack of diversity in fashion; reveal fashion consumers’ power to enact institution-level change, compelling the industry to become more diverse and inclusive; demonstrate the outcomes of capital accumulation and illustrate how all forms of capital are produced by and reproduce each other.

This study proposes a new outcome of capital accumulation on virtual communities, termed “transformative value,” in addition to the social and information values identified in earlier scholarship.





Let’s work together –