Desire refers to the experience of a lack. The concept of desire is one of the best with which to begin an inquiry into the complexity of conceptualizing human behavior. The persistence and the evolution of treatises regarding what desire refers to is enlightening for consumption research and provides a good example of how and why conceptual rigor matters for the field. Indeed, the way that anyone, including academic researchers, understand and interpret desires reflects, at least in part, the desires of that person—for example, whether that relates to viewing desires as a shallow reflection of capitalist-driven consumer cultures or as the freedom of individuals to express themselves through their consumption.

Many an economist or manager would like for sociologists or psychologists not only to define ...

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