Article

Consumption

Michael Dietler

in The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199218714
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199218714.013.0008

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Consumption

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The main focus of this article is consumption. Consumption is a material social practice involving the utilization of objects, as opposed to their production or distribution. Some scholars, who argue for the recent development of a distinctive ‘consumer society’ during the modern period, would define it even more specifically as the utilization of commodities, but this seems unnecessarily restrictive. Consumption was recognized as the social process by which people construct the symbolically laden material worlds they inhabit and which, reciprocally, act back upon them in complex ways. This article offers a brief review of recent studies of consumption, with an emphasis on the fields of archaeology and socio-cultural anthropology. It examines the dramatic growth of a general analytical focus on this practice and the relationship to an expanding interest in the study of material culture. Finally, the issue of methodology is briefly assessed, with special reference to the requirements for developing an effective archaeology of consumption.

Keywords: consumption; consumer society; archaeology; socio-cultural anthropology; methodology; archaeology

Article.  7768 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; History and Theory of Archaeology

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