Consumer culture has consumed Africa, but as with other invasions, Africa has also consumed consumer culture in ways both familiar and exotic in comparison to developments in the West. Focusing primarily on consumer culture in sub-Saharan Africa, a continental region of some 750 million people, this entry draws out key issues relating to the diffusion of luxuries, the endurance of local practices, creolization, parallel modernities, adverse consequences, and anticonsumerist trends. The discussion excludes Arab North Africa because the forces in play are different there.

Economic Backdrop

Conventional measures provide a generally bleak portrait of African economies; the continent hosts the world's poorest countries (“Facts on Africa” 2000; United Nations 2003). Further, the distribution of incomes is skewed, creating small segments of wealthy and large segments of very ...

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