• 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.

Representations and Consumerism
Representations and consumerism

Consumption has usually been envisioned through extreme rhetorical tropes, both anti-consumerist and pro-consumerist. Newspapers frequently carry critiques against ‘consumerism’, peppered with hyperbolic images and passionate moralism. Consumption is criticized as the incarnation of the vices of our era fuelled by the advertising industry: materialism, superficiality, hedonism, dissatisfaction, massification, bad taste, and even personality disorders. Indeed, often it is what consumption does to individual identity which is criticized and it is the fear that the self might become simply a ‘consumer’ anxiously seeking refuge in superfluous objects which is dreaded. This, it is said, would destroy society, culture, refinement: all collective goods would be swallowed up by illusory private gratification. However, a chorus of voices has countered this rhetoric, not least ...

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