The question of consumption emerged as a major focus of research and scholarship in the 1990s but the breadth and diversity of consumer culture has not been fully enough explored. The meanings of consumption, particularly in relation to lifestyle and identity, are of great importance to academic areas including business studies, sociology, cultural and media studies, psychology, geography and politics. The SAGE Handbook of Consumer Culture is a one-stop resource for scholars and students of consumption, where the key dimensions of consumer culture are critically discussed and articulated. The editors have organised contributions from a global and interdisciplinary team of scholars into six key sections: Part 1: Sociology of Consumption Part 2: Geographies of Consumer Culture Part 3: Consumer Culture Studies in Marketing Part 4: Consumer Culture in Media and Cultural Studies Part 5: Material Cultures of Consumption Part 6: The Politics of Consumer Culture
Chapter 12: Consumer Identity Projects
Consumer Identity Projects
In late capitalism, consumption is the arena where personal and group identities are fought over, contested, precariously put together and licked into shape. The Western consumer readily transfigures into an identity seeker. Whether choosing goods, exploring them, buying them, displaying them, disfiguring them or giving them away, consumers are, above all, frequently presented as thirsting for identity and using commodities to quench this thirst. (Gabriel and Lang 2006: 79)
The use of goods in the service of identity projects is widely acknowledged as a central concern within contemporary consumer culture (Arnould and Thompson 2005; Belk 1988; Bocock 1993). Indeed, it has become something of a truism within studies of consumers to suggest that consumption is the core arena ...