• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The Unmanageable Consumer examines the key Western traditions of thinking about and being a consumer. Each chapter posits a consumer model with examples from the international community. Readers are invited to enter an exciting and radical analysis of contemporary consumerism which suggests that consumerism is fragile and consumers unpredictable.

The Consumer as Citizen
The consumer as citizen

We are witnessing the swift debasement of the concept of ‘citizen’ – the person who actively participates in shaping society's destiny – to that of ‘consumer’, whose franchise has become his or her purchasing decisions.

StuartEwen, 1992: 23
Core Arguments

The increasing universality of consumerism has eroded an older tradition that approached people as citizens with rights and responsibilities. This tradition looked at political action as the key to ensuring a better and fairer quality of life. In the 20th-century, this democratic tradition delivered a welfare system in many countries, where the state acted as the guarantor that core human needs, such as education and health, be met independently of ability to pay. Consumerism, on the other hand, in the later ...

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