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Databases and Consumers

  • By: Nikhilesh Dholakia & Detlev Zwick
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, data-driven marketing is ubiquitous and shaping business practice in a growing number of markets. The decreasing cost of information technology, datastorage systems, and data analytical services permits seamless and systematic consumer surveillance as well as increasingly sophisticated production of consumer representations. By capturing consumer activities in a ubiquitous fashion and in minute detail, databases become repositories of complex consumer lives by turning behavior into abstract aggregates of individualized and individualizing data points. Once consumption has been dematerialized and made available as coded, standardized, and manipulable data, there are no more limits to the construction of difference, to classification, and to social sorting, notes David Lyon. The electronic customer list allows visualizing of consumption, or rather consumer life phenomena, ...

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