In this engaging new book Gerda Reith explores key theoretical concepts in the sociology of consumption. Drawing on the ideas of Foucault, Marx and Bataille, amongst others, she investigates the ways that understandings of `the problems of consumption' change over time, and asks what these changes can tell us about their wider social and political contexts. Through this, she uses ideas about both consumption and addiction to explore issues around identity and desire, excess and control, and reason and disorder. She also assesses how our concept of 'normal' consumption has grown out of efforts to regulate behaviour historically considered as disruptive or deviant, and how in the contemporary world the 'dark side' of consumption has been medicalized in terms of addiction, pathology and irrationality. By drawing on case studies of drugs, food and gambling the volume demonstrates the ways in which modern practices of consumption are rooted in historical processes and embedded in geo-political structures of power. It asks not only how modern consumer culture came to be in the form it is today, but also questions what its various manifestations can tell us about wider issues in capitalist modernity.
Addictive Consumption offers a compelling new perspective on the origins, development and problems of consumption in modern society. The volume's interdisciplinary profile will appeal to scholars and students in sociology, psychology, history, philosophy and anthropology.
Gerda Reith is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow, UK. Her research interests lie in the intersections of sociology, political economy, public health and psychology, with a particular focus on the substantive areas of consumption, risk and addiction. She has written and lectured extensively on the empirical and theoretical issues around these topics, and her work has been translated into a number of languages, including Korean, Chinese, Spanish and Hungarian. Her previous book, The Age of Chance: Gambling in Western Culture (Routledge) won the Philip Abrams Prize for the best book in sociology for 2000.
Introduction: Consumer Capitalism and Addiction PART I: The Shifting Problem of Consumption 1. Luxurious Excess: The Emergence of Commodity Culture 2. Industrial Modernity: The Birth of the Addict 3. Intensified Consumption and the Expansion of Addiction PART II: Addictive Consumptions: Drugs, Food, Gambling 4. Drugs: Intoxicating Consumption 5. Food: Embodied Consumption 6. Gambling: Dematerialised Consumption Afterword