Consumer Culture and Society offers an introduction to the study of consumerism and mass consumption from a sociological perspective. It examines what we buy, how and where we consume, the meanings attached to the things we purchase, and the social forces that enable and constrain consumer behavior. Opening chapters provide a theoretical overview and history of consumer society and featured case studies look at mass consumption in familiar contexts, such as tourism, food, and higher education. The book explores ethical and political concerns, including consumer activism, indebtedness, alternative forms of consumption, and dilemmas surrounding the globalization of consumer culture.

Higher Education

Chapter 7 higher education

Just as mass production and consumption originated in the United States, so too did mass higher education. The United States was the “first country in the world in which the children of the middle classes went to college” and where “college became a passport for prosperity” (“Special Report” 2015). According to the U.S. Census, more than 20 million people were enrolled in some institute of higher education, including for-profits, in 2012 compared to 2.3 million in 1950 (Stich 2012:5). However, the ability of higher education to provide social mobility is no longer a guarantee. The preposterously high cost of tuition has turned a university degree into an object of consumption that few can afford to purchase without assuming some ...

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