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The power of money and identity in the lives of Swedish lottery winners

Conference paper
Authors Bengt Larsson
Published in Sociologförbundets årsmöteskonferens 2009
Volume 090305
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Sociology
Language en
Subject categories Sociology

Abstract

This paper discusses how large lottery winnings are experienced and used by the winners. The study draws on a survey of 420 Swedish winners, which is analysed against the background of research from other countries. The analyses show that winners are cautious about realizing any dreams of becoming someone else somewhere else. This result contradicts theories suggesting that identities are being liquefied by the commercially driven consumer culture in affluent Western societies. In contrast, the paper concludes that winners generally try to stay much the same, but on a somewhat higher level of consumption. The critical situation that large winnings produce is generally met by an attempt to hold on to one’s identity and social relations. In addition, the paper shows that lump sum winners tend to save and invest large parts of their winnings, compared with winners of monthly instalments who are more likely to spend on leisure and consumption. These results indicate that ‘wild’ lump sums make winners ‘tame’ their winnings more firmly, whereas ‘domesticated’ monthly instalments can be spent more thoughtlessly without changing identity or becoming an unfortunate winner.

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