Consumerism on TV : Popular Media from the 1950s to the Present book cover
1st Edition

Consumerism on TV
Popular Media from the 1950s to the Present

ISBN 9780367597863
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
184 Pages

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Book Description

Presenting case studies of well-known shows including Will and Grace, Birds of a Feather, Sex and the City and Absolutely Fabulous, as well as 'reality' television, this book examines the transformations that have occurred in consumer society since its appearance and the ways in which these have been constructed and represented in popular media imagery. With analyses of the ways in which consumerism has played out in society, Consumerism on TV highlights specific aspects of the changing nature of consumerism by way of considerations of gender, sexuality and class, as well as less definable changes such as those to do with the celebration of ostentatious greed or the righteousness of the ’ethical’ shopper. With attention to the highly delineated consumer field in which ’shopping’ as an embedded practice of everyday life is caught between escapism and politics, authors explore a variety of themes, such as the extent to which consumerism has become embedded in forging identity, the positing of consumerism as a form of activism, the visibility of the gay male consumer and invisibility of the lesbian consumer, and the (re)stratification of consumer types along class lines. An engaging invitation to consider whether the positioning of consumerism through on-screen depictions is indicative of a new type of non-philosophical politics of 'choice' - a form of marketised, (a)political pragmatism - this book will appeal to scholars and students of sociology and cultural and media studies, with interests in class, consumption and gender.

Table of Contents


Preface by Alison Hulme

1. Blurring Fiction with Reality: American Television and

Consumerism in the 1950s

Susan Nacey

2. From ‘Make do and Mend’ to ‘Your Country Needs You to

Spend’: Constructing the Consumer in Late-Modernity

Alison Hulme

3. Birds of a Feather Shop Together: Conspicuous Consumption

and the Imaging of the 1980’s Essex Girl

Rachel Rye

4. Absolutely Ethical?: Irony, Subversion and Prescience in

Absolutely Fabulous

Susie Khamis

5. The ‘Good Life’ on the Small Screen: Ethical Consumption,

Food Television and Green Makeovers

Tania Lewis

6. Consuming the Lesbian Body: Post-Feminist Heteroflexible

Subjectivities in Sex and the City and The L Word

Ella Fegitz

7. Effeminacy and Expertise, Excess and Equality: Gay Best

Friends as Consumers and Commodities in Contemporary


Susie Khamis and Anthony Lambert

8. ‘A Thousand Diamonds’: Gypsies, Romanies and Travellers and

‘Transgressive Consumerism’ in Reality Television

Emma Bell

9. Shopping for Identity: Post-Feminist Flâneuses in Sex and the City

and In the Cut

Lisa French


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Alison Hulme lectures in the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is also a regular guest lecturer in Chinese Politics and Development at Goldsmiths College, University of London and University College Dublin. She was the 2014 Ron Lister fellow at the University of Otago, New Zealand and is the author of On the Commodity Trail: The Journey of a Bargain Store Product from East to West.


’This is an innovative collection, based on original research and drawing on different countries and different times, that maps the social meaning of consumerism. It goes beyond the "false consciousness vs. authentic self-expression" debate to say new things about a central feature of contemporary society.' James Curran, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK ’Surveying the field from Essex girls to haute couture fashionistas, and from post-war austerity to postmodern extravagance, this collection opens up an impressive range of perceptive debates on how popular television genres (comedies, dramas, lifestyle shows and beyond) have represented the attractions, contradictions, pleasures and pitfalls of consumer society. This is a volume full of astute insights, thoughtful perspectives and constructive provocations.’ Andy Medhurst, University of Sussex, UK