• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The Unmanageable Consumer examines the key Western traditions of thinking about and being a consumer. Each chapter posits a consumer model with examples from the international community. Readers are invited to enter an exciting and radical analysis of contemporary consumerism which suggests that consumerism is fragile and consumers unpredictable.

The Consumer as Communicator
The consumer as communicator

Goods assembled together in ownership make physical, visible statements about the hierarchy of values to which their chooser subscribes. Goods can be cherished or judged inappropriate, discarded, and replaced. Unless we appreciate how they are used to constitute an intelligible universe, we will never know how to resolve the contradictions of our economic life.

Douglas and Isherwood, 1978: 5
Core Arguments

The objects we consume can be seen as a live information system, through which cultural meanings are conveyed and contested. Fashion creates distinctions of social status, supplanting older distinctions based on family lineage or wealth. Goods, such as clothes and cars, as well as services, such as holiday destinations and meals in restaurants, tell stories about those who consume them; ...

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