o Taste and habitus as a way of indicating distance from or closeness to
a cultural group
o An expression of cultural capital (being in the group)
o The resources of being in the group
Taste is really an expression. Not just to say you like something but to
distance yourself from something as well
Expression of cultural knowledge.
Consumption being an aspect of subjectivity or how you define yourself
This does not mean that you are FREE.
Consumption does not work that way
You are not free to represent who you want to be, even if you try
Class, race, age, gender, sexuality, geography, social location, etc.
As much as we talk about expression of cultural capital, none of it means
you’re completely free who you want to be. Not a utopian space.
Is consumption and use of goods as a social process?
How you wear them, when you wear them, when you get rid of them, are part
of the meaning of consumption.
Consumption is a social process.
Theme of the Course
Consumer ethic central
o Central to our social, political, cultural lives
o Consumer ethic = the values, morals, ideologies, in the ways you
choose to live your life and the purchases you make.
o Buying is normal and natural, wanting and consuming, fantasizing, are
seen as natural.
o The value of consumption is that because you work so hard, you
o The promise of labor.
o Pleasure of consumption is the reward for capitalism.
o Fueling the economy is seen as a consumer ethic.
o Political energy is placed on making sure consumption occurs
o Another consumer ethic is how we use consumption to identify
ourselves. Define groups. (gay or African American markets)
Consumer discourse privileged
o Where the messages go
o Everything becomes branded
o Targets certain classes.
o Tell different stories o Entire media-scape is a vehicle for advertising
o Niche marketing
o Underlying story of the American Dream – if you work hard, you will
succeed and be successful and receive rewards society will allow you.
Douglas and Isherwood – consumer goods, modern societies central element
in the establishment and circulation of meaning.
Something from the 80s being cool again.
Consumption and consumer goods become one of the primary ways of
circulation of meaning in economy.
We have placed layers of meaning into consumer products
Schor – privileging of consumption impact on quality of life
Work longer hours
Increased precarity (uncertainty)
Emulation of the “rich”
Lead to “aspiration