This book is written as a survey for students who are interested in the nature and role of consumer culture in modern societies. Drawing on a wide range of studies and disciplines, Celia Lury examines the rise of consumer culture and the changing relations between the production and consumption of cultural goods. Rejecting the Marxist principle of production as the lone economic determinant in capitalist society, Lury presents consumerism as an equally active player in the free market. Rather than existing as opposites, production and consumerism are seen as complements, feeding off each other in an endless cycle. As the author writes, “the use or appropriation of an object is more often than not both a moment of consumption and production, of undoing and doing, of destruction and construction.”
Lury weaves unique arguments over the expansive nature of consumption, including explanations as to how poorer segments of society do in fact contribute to consumer culture and how a commodity moves beyond its function and assumes a cultural and symbolic meaning. Not only does the author explore the way an individual’s position in social groups structured by class, gender, race and age affects the nature of his or her participation in consumer culture, but also how this culture itself is instrumental in the defining of social and political groups and the forming of an individual’s self-identity.
Clearly written and well illustrated, Consumer Culture is a lively and engaging introduction to a topic which is of growing importance in media and cultural studies and in the sociology of culture. It will enable readers to understand and ultimately to have better control over the means of consumption.