184 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    184 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a clear and wide-ranging overview of consumption as a sociological concept. Arguing that consumption is both an unavoidable part of life and an ongoing dialectical process, it gives a critical assessment of a range of theoretical approaches to the study of consumption and the possibilities these frameworks can offer.

    Consumption is something we all do. It is not just another word for shopping. When we eat and drink, or when we read a book or watch TV, or visit an art gallery or spend an evening in a pub, we are consuming. There is not ‘a world of consumption’ that some of us do not enter. We are all consumers and consumption must be regarded as an important sociological concept as a result. Consumption is also connected to notions of ‘agency’ - what people do, rather than what is done to them or made available to them for their doings. Before the critical focus on consumption, it was assumed that the meaning and use of things was dictated by how they were produced or by their simple mute materiality. Focusing on consumption challenges this way of thinking: rather than the mute and predictable end point of production, it is rethought as an activity, a process, something we do that involves use and meaning. It is how most of us intervene in culture.

    This thought-provoking yet accessible book offers a valuable introduction of the concept of consumption for researchers and undergraduate and postgraduate students in a range of fields within the humanities and social sciences, including sociology, history, anthropology, English, media and cultural studies.

    1. Consumption as a key sociological concept

    Consumption and capitalist consumerism

    Consumption as process

    Consumption as discourse


    2. What drives consumption?

    Marx, alienation, and consumption

    Social emulation

    The Romantic ethic

    Consumption and performativity


    3. Explaining consumption

    Consumption as Manipulation

    Consumption as communication

    Consumption as poaching


    4. Sustainable consumption and capitalist consumerism

    Consuming sustainably

    Capitalist consumer society

    Selling capitalism

    The Anthropocene

    The Capitalocene


    5. Mediatized consumption


    Media love

    Preliminary conclusions


    6. Consumption and everyday life

    Symbolic interactionism


    Phenomenological sociology


    Practice theory


    7. Sociology of consumption after cultural studies

    Cultural studies

    The uses of literacy

    Consuming utopian fiction





    John Storey is Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies at the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sunderland, UK. He has published widely on cultural theory, popular culture, consumption, and utopianism. He is the author of numerous books, including Culture and Power in Cultural Studies: The Politics of Signification (2010), From Popular Culture to Everyday Life (Routledge, 2014), Theories of Consumption (Routledge, 2017), Radical Utopianism and Cultural Studies: On Refusing to be Realistic (Routledge, 2019), Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction (Ninth Edition, Routledge, 2021), and Consuming Utopia: Cultural Studies and the Politics of Reading (Routledge, 2022). He is also editor of The Making of English Popular Culture (Routledge, 2016) and Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader (Routledge, 2019).