Consuming People: From Political Economy to Theaters of Consumption

Consuming People: From Political Economy to Theaters of Consumption

Consuming People: From Political Economy to Theaters of Consumption

Consuming People: From Political Economy to Theaters of Consumption

Synopsis

Exploring consumption patterns in America during the transition from modern to postmodern, the authors argue that consumption is replacing production as the fundamental process in the economy and society.

Excerpt

The idea for this book started in 1975 as a treatise in the political economy of marketing. Our purpose, then, was to explore and present the history of the development of marketing, particularly as part of the growth of the consumer culture and the modern capitalist consumption pattern. Our intended audience was the marketing and consumer research community. We wanted to illustrate that marketing was more than a business activity, or even a social process, that it was becoming a culture of our time. Also, we wanted to explore the consumption-production nexus, recognizing that new conceptualizations of old categories were becoming ever more necessary to understand our world.

Over two decades, the purpose and the content of the book, as well as its intended audience, evolved and transformed in significant ways. Given the long period since its inception, this may be expected. Furthermore, the years in-between this book's inception and completion have been very active years in the social sciences and the humanities. This dynamism in the discourses of many different disciplines is reflected in our work. The growing interest in consumption and consumer culture in an increasing range of social science disciplines has influenced our work. What we realized along these years is that in the humanities, social sciences, and the business disciplines, the leading phenomena of interest have tended to converge. One phenomenon of common interest arising from such convergence is consumption and its impact on all facets of life in contemporary society. Another is culture, which seems to be (re)gaining a central place in understanding other phenomena. For some time, culture had lost its primary position and seemed to be relegated to a secondary, "superstructural" position. We discuss this dynamic at some length in this book. Culture's place in human history was substituted by the economy, which took center stage as the engine of society and human relations. As a result, from being regarded as a determining moment, culture got demoted to a determined moment in human society. It became increasingly synonymous with degrees of "cultivation" and the institutions that represented cultivation. Several trends in intellectual discourse, particularly postmodernism, feminism, and globalism, have reversed this diminished role of culture in determination. . .

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