A Theory of Shopping offers a highly original perspective on one ofour most basic everyday activities - shopping. We commonly assumethat shopping is primarily concerned with individuals andmaterialism. But Miller rejects this assumption and follows thesurprising route of analysing shopping by means of an analogy withanthropological studies of sacrificial ritual. He argues that theact of purchasing goods is almost always linked to other socialrelations, and most especially those based on love and care.The ethnographic sections of the book are based on a year's studyof shopping on a street in North London. This provides the basisfor a sensitive description of the issues the shopper confrontswhen making decisions as to what to buy. Miller develops a theoryto account for these observations, arguing that shopping typicallyconsists of three major stages which reflect the three key stagesof many rites of sacrifice. In both shopping and sacrifice theultimate intention is to constitute others as desiring subjects.Finally the book examines certain historical shifts in bothsubjects and objects of devotion, in particular, ideals of genderand love.This treatment of shopping from the perspective of comparativeanthropology represents a highly innovative approach to one of themost familiar tasks of our daily lives. Written in a clear andaccessible manner, this book will be of interest to students andacademics in anthropology, sociology and cultural studies, as wellas anybody who wants to consider more deeply the nature of theirown everyday activities.
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Table of Contents
1. Making Love in Supermarkets.
2. Shopping as Sacrifice.
3. Subjects and Objects of Devotion.
What People are Saying About This
"Before reading this book, I did not believe that a theory of shopping was possible. Now I do. Daniel Miller argues that shopping is a ritual practice oriented to others. Remarkable." -- University of Bristol