Subculture wars::The struggle for the vape industry


Drawing on a 2-year study, I argue that the UK vape industry is engaged in a classificatory struggle between a subcultural industry and its “other”, the mainstream industry. I build on Thornton's analysis of club culture to characterize the subcultural vape industry as a community of taste built round a masculine aesthetic and a commitment to authenticity and DIY practice. Its attachment to complex systems and masculine spaces risked excluding customers without specialist knowledge or interest. The mainstream industry included tobacco companies which promoted vaping as a complementary category to smoking, linking their own vaping products to historic meanings of the cigarette as a lifestyle product. This task was hampered by the toxic legacy of combusted tobacco and its increasing reversion to a generic category rather than a branded product. Finally, the success of the price-focused vaping industry has been largely overlooked, but suggests that for most consumers, electronic cigarettes are still a contrasting category to combusted tobacco and are purchased largely on price. I conclude that the exclusion of a feminized, classed “other” is a defining element of subcultural formation, itself an overwhelmingly male mechanism of group identity construction.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Policy
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Centre for Health and Society
Additional Information: Copyright © 2022 The Authors. The British Journal of Sociology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of London School of Economics and Political Science. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: authenticity,bourdieu,consumption,field analysis,subculture,vape industry,Sociology and Political Science
Publication ISSN: 1468-4446
Last Modified: 30 May 2024 07:31
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2023 09:38
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://onlinel ... 1468-4446.12981 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2023-01
Published Online Date: 2022-11-03
Accepted Date: 2022-10-12
Authors: Thirlway, Frances (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-8882-544X)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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