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consumer culture


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See also advertising cultures; taste.

1. A pejorative reference to modern Western society in terms of its domination by the marketing and consumption of goods and services (see also promotional culture). Anti-consumerists characterize its materialism as the reduction of personal fulfilment to consumption, criticize its superficiality, or see it in terms of cultural manipulation. See also aestheticization; commodification; commodity fetishism; conspicuous consumption; Frankfurt school; manipulative model; mass culture.

2. A society in which patterns of consumption are a key basis for status differentiation, personal identities, and pleasure: see also lifestyle; post-Fordism; segmentation.

3. A reference to the site within which the active, savvy consumer subversively subordinates commodities and advertisements to their own purposes, especially in the construction of social identity. In this framing, the form (advertising, packaging) can be at least as important as the content. Neo-liberals also welcome competitive pricing and ‘consumer sovereignty’, seeing consumers as pushing for higher quality products, and green consumerism as leading to products that are more ethically-sourced and sustainable. See also active audience theory; bricolage; compare cultural populism.

4. The cultural contexts, practices, institutions, and discourses involved in marketing and/or consumption, and also their academic study.

Subjects: Media Studies.


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