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.

Introduction: Historical Context and Theoretical Tensions

Chapter 1 introduction: Historical context and theoretical tensions

One of the most visible and salient aspects of contemporary society is consumption, or selling, buying, using, and disposing of products and services.

Regardless of income, most of us partake in some type of consumption every day whether it be purchasing a cup of coffee or a new app for our smartphones. Although some forms of consumption are quite tangible, such as buying a car, others are more about consuming experiences, like attending a football game or going to a movie. What we consume conveys not just our preferences but also provides signals to others about our socioeconomic class and status, our gender and sexuality, our race and ethnicity, and our age. ...

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