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.

Utility and Social Competition

Utility and social competition

Of all the social sciences, economics has had a pivotal role in portraying what consumption is and is not, in representing the relationship between production and consumption, and in defining the place of consumption within society at large. Economics has indeed occupied a hegemonic role in public policy and public discourse concerning consumption. However, in this chapter I shall show that the science of economics has encountered some significant difficulties in its attempt to model consumption as purely an instrumentally rational decision.

Notwithstanding a few attempts to include the social dimension, the economic view has in the main remained bound to a business and individualistic conception of the sphere of consumption. Meanwhile, from its very beginnings, sociology has conceived ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles