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Consumption, Geographies of

  • By: Barney Warf
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Consumption has meant different things at different moments in time and has taken widely varying forms. The term comes from the Latin consumere, “to use up” (as in tuberculosis), implying that consumption means to make full use of and to destroy simultaneously. In societies lacking a social surplus, consumption equals production. Economically, consumption is how consumers satisfy their needs. In social terms, consumption lies at the intersections of production, culture, everyday life, and psychology. In contrast to production, which has been studied in exhaustive detail in geography, consumption has long been ignored or regarded as unproblematic. The reasons for this silence are not clear but may reflect, among other things, Marxism's emphasis on production and labor as the central acts of social life and, conversely, ...

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