The Changing Consumer: Markets and Meanings

The Changing Consumer: Markets and Meanings

The Changing Consumer: Markets and Meanings

The Changing Consumer: Markets and Meanings


It appears that everything we do, see, hear and even feel is connected at some level to our experience as consumers. The increasingly high profile of debates on consumption, consumer culture, behaviour and rights reflects a world undergoing rapid change. Charting the nature of that change, this revealing book discusses why consumption has become so important, and what role, if any, it plays in underpinning social, economic and political transformation. Combining a helpful survey of contemporary approaches to consumption with papers on key aspects of practice, this multi-disciplinary collection includes contributions from sociology, anthropology, media studies and business studies as well as from major figures in consumption studies such as Warde, du Gay and Belk. It includes chapters on: * men's consumption and men's magazines * the changing profile of women as consumers * the representation of consumption on popular TV shows * consuming retro chic * the symbolic and emotional role of alcohol consumption. Drawing on fascinating case-studies throughout, this book will be essential reading for students and academics interested in the study of consumption.


The meaning of consumption; the meaning of change?

Steven Miles, Kevin Meethan and Alison Anderson

The consumer ethic is ubiquitous. Everything we do, see, hear, and even feel appears to be connected in some way to our experience as consumers. The increasingly high academic and media profile of debates over consumption, consumer culture, consumer behaviour and consumer rights reflects a world undergoing rapid change. In The Changing Consumer we hope to chart the nature of that change and to discuss why it is that consumption is so important to the state of the world in which we live, and what role, if any, consumption plays in actively underpinning social, economic and political transformation. The papers in this collection originate from a conference entitled Consuming Markets; Consuming Meanings, which was hosted by the Research Group on Consumption and Representation at the University of Plymouth. The conference attracted a diverse number of consumer researchers from fifteen countries and a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds. But this book isn't a conference collection in the conventional sense. Indeed, the editors consciously commissioned authors whose work seemed to get at the crux of what it means to be a consumer at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Some of the chapters presented here have a historical dimension, but, more importantly, the book as a whole is concerned with why consumption is important and why it is important now. The Changing Consumer represents an effort to take one step back in order to consider what constitutes the so-called consumer society, and why, if at all, that consumer society appears to be more well entrenched at this point in time than it ever has been before. The consumer society may well have changed. This book is concerned with how and why that change, apparently driven by the market, seems to have had such a fundamental impact on the meanings through which human beings relate to a world of consumption which is, at one and the same time, both constraining and enabling, individualising and conforming.

In 1995 Daniel Miller made the polemical statement that consumption, rather than production, was '… the vanguard of history' (Miller 1995:1). Behind Miller's assertion is the recognition that the relationship between the social and the economic has undergone significant changes at a global level just as much as at national and more localised levels. There are of course a number of reasons: economic, political, ideological and theoretical for instance, which

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