This lucid introduction to the sociology of consumerism examines the relationship between production and consumption in late capitalist societies. The historical and theoretical discussion provides the student with the tools to examine key themes in the sociology of consumption. After a detailed historical overview of the advent of consumer society, Peter Corrigan examines theoretical accounts of consumption and consumer practice, including: Veblen and conspicuous consumption; Mary Douglas on the world of goods; Jean Baudrillard on the system of objects; and Pierre Bourdieu on cultural capital. This historical and theoretical discussion provides the student with the tools to examine key themes in the socio
Chapter 12: Conclusion
Goods, Continuity and Change
Grant McCracken (1988: 131) points out that Western society is an ‘ethnographic oddity’ in the sense that it is undergoing continual change while traditional societies were relatively stable. But does not continual change and transformation threaten to make everything fall apart? Where is the continuity in such permanent transformation? McCracken suggests that consumer goods play a large role in both change and in surviving that change. Goods in this perspective are agents both of continuity and of change. Let us begin by taking the case of goods as an instrument of continuity.
The reader may recall from Chapter 2 that Douglas and Isherwood (1979) maintained that one of the chief functions of goods was to stop the drift of meanings – to ...