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 20: The Materiality of Consumer Culture
The Materiality of Consumer Culture
Introduction: Imagining Things – Consumers, Material Culture, and Material Desire
It is not at all surprising that consumer scholarship has routinely examined material things as lenses onto marketing and economic structure, dominant ideologies, and a host of dimensions of social and individual subjectivity. Nevertheless, material things often figure in such scholarship as rather shallow symbols, their meanings dispensed by style makers, marketers, and ideologues. Material things paradoxically occupy a central position in consumer scholarship even as concrete material culture, systematic empirical analysis, and the sensory experience of things often remain unexamined.
The concept of materiality is sometimes wielded simply as a clumsy reference to concrete objects and their physical presence. Most materiality scholarship instead champions ...