Full Text

consumer culture


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


A rather loose term which began to be used by revisionist Marxists in the 1980s to signal their new approach to the marketplace. They wanted to rethink consumers’ previously assumed “irrationality,” whether this irrationality was defined in terms of M arx's concept of commodity fetishism or in the psychoanalytically inflected approach of the F rankfurt school . Consumption, in Martyn Lee's words, was still taken to be the moment when economic activity and cultural practice combined, but it was now argued (in the pages of the British Communist Party magazine, Marxism Today , for example) that as a cultural practice it could not be understood as entirely determined either by the circulation of capital or by individual psychopathology. Consuming is, rather, a social practice, which has two theoretical implications. First, consumer culture can only be understood by reference to the institutions of consumption, to shops and shopping malls, consumer magazines, and advertisements. The pleasures of consumption are, in fact, social pleasures. This was particularly important for feminists, who could thus rescue the woman's activity of shopping—and window shopping—from the condescension of cultural theorists, and for S ubculture theorists, who argued that consumption was the site on which the “active” consumer transformed a commodity into a S ymbol of “resistance.” This related to the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top