Please read Chapter 4 of Rami Gabriel’s Why I Buy, appropriately entitled “Consumer Society,” which discusses the societal and cultural aspects of consumption in historical perspective. But here’s the catch: he doesn’t always or consistently differentiate them.
Your task will be to parse the cultural from the societal, by recognizing which of Gabriel’s points deal with ideational phenomena (and hence consumer culture or consumerism for short) as opposed to material phenomena (or consumer society). In this exercise you will need to hone in on any three of Gabriel’s insights or arguments about consumerism. Explain, in other words, three implicit ideas and meanings that drive consumer society?
What makes this exercise challenging is that Gabriel’s writing style is ‘fast and dense,’ which is to say he throws a lot of points at the reader – arguably way too many! But don’t be daunted by this, because the point here is not to summarize the chapter. The point, rather, is to extract pertinent ideas from the text (which is pretty much what “exegetical” means).
Here are some questions to help guide your ‘exegesis:’
What do you think Gabriel means when he calls consumerism a “‘default’ model of the self?”What do consumers achieve (or strive to achieve) by consuming?With which other ‘big ideas’ or ‘-isms’ is consumerism associated?What purposes does consumerism serve our society? Why, in other words, has it become societally or political necessary?
This is not an essay assignment, but you should provide a thoughtful, well written response, minimum 200 words. You should also cite page numbers from the readings, as well as use direct quotes.
The post Sociology of Consumption
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