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.

Contexts of Consumption

Contexts of consumption

Consumption is surely a matter of taste, but tastes are not the only thing that counts in understanding our desires: the institutions and occasions, places and times of consumption are social structures in relation to which tastes become translated into practice. Just as production has been distilled and organized in specific institutions (the factory, the office), so consumption is often concentrated in institutions typically coded as places of ‘leisure’ and which have their own rules, sanctioning certain forms of interaction while stigmatizing others. Thus the home, the space for private consumption par excellence, goes hand in hand with a number of public commercial spaces such as shopping centres, health clubs, restaurants, theme parks and tourist villages. For all their differences, ...

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