The Consumer Society Reader / Edition 1

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A unique and definitive reader on our "national passion"—buying stuff—and its consequences for American society. We are citizens, owners and workers, believers and heathens, but today more than anything else we are consumers. How this came to be and its consequences for us all is the subject of this pioneering reader on the rise—and continued rise—of consumerism. The Consumer Society Reader features a range of key works on the nature and evolution of consumer society. It includes classics such as the Frankfurt School writers Adorno, Horkheimer, and Marcuse on the Culture Industry; Thorstein Veblen's oft-cited writings on "conspicuous consumption"; Betty Friedan on the housewife's central role in consumer society; and John Kenneth Galbraith's influential analysis of the "affluent society." The book also includes much-discussed recent work by such leading critics as Pierre Bourdieu, Thomas Frank, bell hooks, Bill McKibben, and Janice Radway. A landmark in social criticism, The Consumer Society Reader is sure to become the standard book on the subject.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Schor (economics of leisure studies, Tilburg Univ., Netherlands) and Holt (advertising and sociology, Univ. of Illinois) have collected an impressive array of articles treating the multifarious aspects of consumer society. The anthology gathers classic essays by Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, John Kenneth Galbraith, Stuart Ewen, Pierre Bourdieu, and other familiar critics of consumption and supplements them with newer, lesser-known works. Topics range from Barry Manilow fan clubs and black Barbie dolls to Italian scooters and adman Bill Bernbach's groundbreaking publicity campaign for Volkswagon in the early Sixties. The result is a rich, complex portrait of commodity consumption in the United States and other parts of the Western world. In the end, the anthology lets the reader decide: does society empower consumers to purchase things that will increase their sense of well-being and individuality, or have we become slaves to global capitalism, buying things we do not need and in the process destroying the planet with our wasteful habits? Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. (Introduction not seen.)--Andrew Brodie Smith, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Presents 28 essays<-->classic texts from intellectual superstars<-- >among them: Adorno and Horkheimer's "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception"; Betty Friedan's "The Sexual Self"; Jean Baudrillard's "The Ideological Genesis of Needs"; Dick Hebdige's "Object as Image: The Italian Scooter Cycle"; Thorsten Veblen's "Conspicuous Consumption"; James Twitchell's "Two Cheers for Materialism"; and Karl Marx's "The Fetishism of the Commodity and Its Secret." Topics include the social organization of symbols, consumption and social inequality, the liberatory dimensions of consumer society, capitalism's tendency to commodify, and new critiques of consumer society. Essays are given dates but no information is provided about the contributors nor is there an index. Schor teaches women's studies at Harvard and leisure studies at Tilburg University in the Netherlands; Holt teaches marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Distributed by W.W. Norton. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565845985
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 8/1/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 502
  • Sales rank: 935,447
  • Product dimensions: 1.07 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 6.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Juliet B. Schor's research has focused on the economics of work, spending, environment, and the consumer culture. She is the author of Born to Buy, The Overworked American, and The Overspent American. Schor is senior lecturer on women's studies at Harvard University, as well as chair in the economics of leisure studies at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. She is a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and a cofounder of the Center for a New American Dream, an organization devoted to ecologically and socially sustainable lifestyles.

Douglas B. Holt is assistant professor in the department of marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations 1
1 Estranged Labour 3
2 The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret 10
3 Beyond Use Value 19
4 Conspicuous Consumption 31
5 The Puzzle of Modern Consumerism 48
6 The Uses of Goods 73
7 Introduction to Distinction 84
8 Lifestyle and Consumer Culture 92
9 Object Domains, Ideology and Interests 106
10 Object as Image: The Italian Scooter Cycle 125
11 "Making Do": Uses and Tactics 162
Pt. II The Character of the Consumer Society 175
12 Looking Backwards 177
13 Assembling a New World of Facts 186
14 Was There Love on the Dole? 192
15 A Child's Cartography 204
16 The Dependence Effect 217
17 "Growthmanship" 223
18 Textiles: The Fabric of Life 228
19 A New Language? 233
20 Aesthetic Abstraction of the Commodity: Surface - Package - Advertising Image 241
21 The Bonding of Media and Advertising 244
22 The Characteristic Mode of Consumption of Fordism 253
23 Theorizing the Transition 258
24 The Politics of Consumption 271
25 The Commodities of Culture 282
26 Dupes and Guerrillas: The Dialectics of Cultural Consumption 288
27 Sovereign Consumption 294
28 The Promotional Condition of Contemporary Culture 300
Name Index 319
Subject Index 322
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