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.

Subjects of Consumption: Passive Dupes or Active Agents?

Chapter 3 subjects of consumption: Passive dupes or active agents?

Who exactly is purchasing all of the commodities produced in mass consumer society—and, more important, why? Social theorists have been debating the various motivations for why we consume since the inception of mass consumer society. Some claim that consumers are passive dupes, manipulated by advertisers and marketers into buying whatever they are selling, while others believe that consumers are active agents, creatively using commodities to express their tastes and lifestyles. Some theorists argue that commodities are used to control individuals, while others suggest that consumers manipulate commodities to express their class, status, and lifestyle. A few theorists even assert that consumers can use commodities to resist and ...

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