Real Estate Agents as a Case StudyBy Lise Bernard
This article puts the emphasis on how a commercial business can lead to upward mobility – a path that has been partly overlooked. It relies on a statistical analysis and on an ethnography of real estate agents. We show that real estate agents entered this industry because they were expecting some economic success and found the status they would be granted attractive. Then, we look at how real estate agents experience their own mobility and how subjective factors play out during this process. Finally, we describe the evolution of the lifestyles of real estate agents who have been upwardly mobile over one generation. We highlight the material dimension of such a mobility by focusing on their consumption habits and we show that these changes can also be accompanied by a transformation in their rapport with their body, culture, and politics.