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Title: Olfactory Social Stratification
Other Titles: SOCIAL TRENDS, Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2016 P 29 - 49
Authors: Ghosh, Sayantan
Keywords: olfaction
olfactory mask
scented class
social construct
Issue Date: Mar-2016
Publisher: University of North Bengal
Abstract: Smell plays a crucial role in our everyday life. From dawn till night, social actors go through different types of smells, react differently and build an image on an olfactory basis. At a bazaar, we sniff out our preferred lemon or mango, we opt for our best perfume or deodorant during intimacy, we also opt for deodorants or perfumes for official purposes, but the choice of the fragrance and its intensity may vary. It is not only about food habits or self presentation but smell also plays a key role in stratifying individuals, groups and spaces. Each group in the hierarchy has a specific social and olfactory position. The social construct and olfactory construct often go hand in hand. Whether actual or not, the olfactory perception of each stratum is different. Thus, whether upper class and lower class people really smell different or not, they are socially constructed and hence are expected to smell differently. Similarly, men and women are often portrayed as having different olfactory identities. Smell tells the tale of a person – about his/her gender, caste or class position. Just like individuals and groups, spaces are also classified or stratified in terms of olfaction. It is often argued that each group in the social hierarchy has a distinct smell –whether it is real or not is not the search here. Rather this paper focuses on how each group (in terms of caste, class and gender) and space is socially constructed in specific olfactory terms and how groups and spaces are stratified in terms of olfaction. I have opted for literary sources and in-depth interviews as my method of study. This paper is an effort to reveal the relation between olfaction and social stratification.
ISSN: 2348-6538
Appears in Collections:Vol. 03 No. 1 (March 2016)

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