"A thorough and wide-ranging synthetic account of social scientific research on consumption which will set the standard for the second generation of textbooks on cultures of consumption."
- Alan Warde, University of Manchester
"The multi-disciplinary nature of the book provides new and revealing insights, and Sassatelli conveys brilliantly the heterogeneity and ambivalent nature of consumer identities, consumer practices and consumer cultures... Newcomers to consumer culture will find this an invaluable primer and introducton to the major concepts and ideas, while those familiar with the field will find Sassatelli's sharp analysis and discussion both refreshing and inspiring."
- James Skinner, Journal of Sociology
"This is a model of what a text book ought to be. Over the past decade the original debates about consumption have been overlaid by a vast amount of detailed research, and it seems unimaginable that a single text couuld do justice to all of these. To do so would involve as much a commitment to depth as to breadth. I was quite astonished at how well Sassatelli succeeds in balancing the two... Ultimately, it's the book that I would trust to help people digest what we now have discovered about consumption and start from a much more mature and reflective foundation to consider what more we might yet do."
- Daniel Miller, Material World
Showing the cultural and institutional processes that have brought the notion of the 'consumer' to life, this book guides the reader on a comprehensive journey through the history of how we have come to understand ourselves as consumers in a consumer society and reveals the profound ambiguities and ambivalences inherent within. While rooted in sociology, Sassatelli draws on the traditions of history, anthropology, geography and economics to provide:
a history of the rise of consumer culture around the world
a richly illustrated analysis of theory from neo-classical economics, to critical theory, to theories of practice and ritual de-commoditization
a compelling discussion of the politics underlying our consumption practices.
An exemplary introduction to the history and theory of consumer culture, this book provides nuanced answers to some of the most central questions of our time.
THE RISE OF CONSUMER CULTURE Chapter 1: Capitalism and the Consumer Revolution Consumption, Production and Exchange The Genesis of Consumer Capitalism From Courts to Cities, from Luxuries to Fashion Chapter 2: The Cultural Production of Economic Value Commodity Flows, Knowledge Flows The Invention of the Consumer and the cultural trajectories of good Consumer Society as Historical Type THEORIES OF CONSUMER AGENCY Chapter 3: Utility and Social Competition The Sovereign Consumer The Limits of Economic Rationality Fashion, Style and Conspicuous Consumption Beyond Emulation Chapter 4: Needs, Manipulation and Simulation From Commodity Fetishism to Critical Theory Nature, Authenticity and Resistance Post-Modern Pessimism Social Relations and Consumption Chapter 5: Taste, Identity and Practices Taste and Distinction Cultural Classification and Identity Appropriating Commodities Ambivalence and Practice THE POLITICS OF CONSUMPTION Chapter 6: Representation and Consumerism The Anti-Consumerist Rhetoric and the Apology of Consumption Advertising Cultures and their Languages The Functions and Meanings of Ads Ideology, Social Differences and Consumerism Chapter 7: Commodities and Consumers Commoditization and De-commoditization Goods, Values and the Boundaries of Commoditization The Normalization of Consumption Chapter 8: Contexts of Consumption Leisure, Commercial Institutions and Public Places The Home, the Commercialization of Feelings and Cultural Consumption Local Consumption in Mcdonaldized settings Alternative Consumption and Social Movements