• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

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.

Introduction: Born to Consume
Introduction: Born to consume

Growing up in most contemporary Western contexts, the average individual will be confronted not only with a cornucopia of commodities and commercialized services but also with a variety of discourses and institutions identifying such a context as ‘consumer society’ or ‘consumer culture’. More or less explicitly, these discourses and institutions will address people as ‘consumers’. This book is concerned precisely with the practices, discourses and institutions which have brought about and characterize ‘consumer culture’. Although the product of an historical process, the contemporary ways of organizing and understanding the relations between people and objects have several distinctive features.

In all societies objects accompany human beings throughout their existence, offering them support and inspiration and, at the same time, imposing ...

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