Showing the cultural and institutional processes that have brought the notion of the ‘consumer’ to life, this book guides the reader on a comprehensive journey through the history of how we have come to understand ourselves as consumers in a consumer society and reveals the profound ambiguities and ambivalences inherent within. Rooted in sociology, Roberta Sassatelli also draws on history, anthropology, geography, and economics to give an exemplary introduction to the history and theory of consumer culture.
The Politics of Consumption
In contemporary Western society there's an obvious tendency to read consumption through a series of antinomies. As we have seen, acts of consumption are not only understood through an opposition between rational and irrational action, but also through a freedom/oppression dichotomy. When not being considered as a sphere of self-interested gratification, consumption appears instead as a place of the loss of self, illusory self-realization and compulsive imitation. It is conceived of either as the kingdom of a strong autonomous sovereign, or as a trap for the weak, heteronomous dupe. Thus, discourses on consumption present diametrically opposed imageries which oscillate between the two poles of control or abandon, of full information or total determination. However, as we shall see, ...