Anthropology of consumption


Anthropology of consumption

The aim of this group is to discuss issues of consumption through multiple perspectives, by investigating consumption as praxis, its relations to capitalism, historical developments and everydayness, ethnographic aspects...and more!

Members: 186
Latest Activity: Feb 15, 2017

David Harvey - "Is marxism still relevant today?"

Discussion Forum

Anthropology of waste (consumption/non-consumption/overconsumption) 2 Replies

Started by Kirrilly Thompson. Last reply by Simon Burns Nov 29, 2012.


Started by E Rey-Saturay. Last reply by Klaus Rominger Sep 25, 2011.

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Comment by John McCreery on October 12, 2011 at 7:51am
Look here for a link to a fascinating interview whose subject is design anthropology.
Comment by Sabina Rossignoli on January 1, 2010 at 11:50am
I wish a happy new year to all the members of this group and of oac! I also hope that 2010 will bring new life and energy to our discussions.
Comment by John McCreery on December 24, 2009 at 9:45am
Here in Japan it is almost 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2009. Best wishes to all on whatever holidays you celebrate. A warm thanks for being here and participating in our conversations. May the new year be a peaceful, healthy and prosperous one.
Comment by John McCreery on December 22, 2009 at 4:05am
Dear Friends,

First, I would like to offer best wishes for joyful holidays and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Second, I would like to say that to me "discussion" implies exchange of views. Here discussion appears to have stopped. Is it time to shut down this group and move on to something else?
Comment by John McCreery on December 18, 2009 at 9:50am
Grant McCracken offers the following intriguing observation,

Accident might be the enemy of individualism. If we are forsaking choice, we are forsaking the very apparatus we use to craft the self. No? Clearly, accident is better than ennui but I can’t help wondering whether it isn’t also the end of empire, a certain cultural regime that is. If we cease making choices might we not begin to grow ever more faint, ever more Cheshire. What happens to our individualism without choice?
Or maybe, and this is the more interesting anthropological possibility, we are finding new ways to invent the self. It’s less about the choice we control and more about the accident we embrace. And that would be really interesting.
Comment by Sabina Rossignoli on November 26, 2009 at 2:56am
Dear all,

John has just started a discussion in the forum "Cunsuming Life" (see above in this page). Bauman is our starting point but we aim at expanding the conversation. Are we all consumers without civility? Do we act in consumer society without knowing how to inter-act with each other? Does the structure of consumer society preclude social and political engagement?
Would be nice to have your voices in the debate, for insights, questions, thoughts...
Comment by Sabina Rossignoli on November 24, 2009 at 1:44pm
MRayzberg, thanks for your intervention, do you want to share your thought about Bataille more? Nikos seems to share this interest as well
Comment by MRayzberg on November 23, 2009 at 11:50pm
This where Bataille's Accursed Share is useful...
Comment by Sabina Rossignoli on November 23, 2009 at 11:16pm
The problem might also lay is maybe because social sciences tend to look down at consumption as inherently negative? Since Veblen, conspicuous consumption is pretty much associated with ideas of loss of cultural, social, existential meaning...
Comment by Sabina Rossignoli on November 16, 2009 at 1:32am

I want to defend the personality of my group, may it be either deliberately or matter-of-factly defined. I don't get what you mean by saying that this group lacks in "discussion", because I think that, exchange of ideas wise, this group has been pretty active so far. You could maybe specify what you mean by the term "discussion" (and why you have put it into inverted commas) and distinguish it from "comments". Moreover, I just traced the history of this group and I found it pretty diversified in the shapes of its discussions and ideas. And I don't dismiss the positive value of apparently innocent commenting...
Yet if you think that we need some more spicy debates, then you are welcome to express your feelings and put some salt into the conversation. Nonetheless I argue against your "younger colleagues are frightened by the term discussion" (I take myself as part of your category). As fare as I can see, the most active members of this group belong to different age groups in addition I wouldn't necessarily blame "the young" for any presumed lack of vitality. Then, if any age-oriented "hierarchy" exists in the oac, I wouldn't over-simplify the question by establishing this binary young's inability vs older's wisdom. John got a point with regard to this.


thank you for bringing Bauman into the discussion. Bauman's analysis of consumer culture within the liquid modernity is certainly compelling. I am fascinated namely by his idea of consumer culture providing the illusion of stability and rationality in an increasingly umpredictable and individualized society. In my opinion, the fact that Bauman works on ideal types does not imply that his analysis is not compatible with the collection and interpretation of ethnographic data. Additionally, Bauman specifies that he's concerned with post-capitalist contexts. Nonetheless, I feel that the ideal "consumer" defined by Bauman is a passive contributor to the fiction of consumer culture, so far as to become a commodity herself. Notions of stability/instability vary in the age of precarization and so do modes of access to commodities. Besides all these people going to shop, there are still a lot of people worldwide for whom shopping is not a pre-condition of social existence. But Bauman works on notions of "desire" and I find it very stimulating. I have to say though that I haven't read the whole book, but I'm going to borrow it tomorrow... want to talk more about it?

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