Anthropology is the study of human life, societies, and cultures. Anthropologists have especially contributed to the study of consumer culture by exploring the social construction of needs and desires, the relationships of humans to material goods, and the cross-cultural diversity of consumer practices. Several anthropologists of consumption have challenged economic research by demonstrating that social context is the key factor that determines why people consume, how they consume, and why there are differences within and across consumer groups. Qualitative ethnographic methods typically used by anthropologists have become increasingly influential in cross-disciplinary and nonacademic research.

Consumption has been a growing area of explicit interest in anthropology since the 1980s. The array of anthropological research on consumption that has developed since that time has expanded, rather than narrowed, ...

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