Anti-consumerism has become a conspicuous part of contemporary activism and popular culture, from ‘culture jams’ and actions against Esso and Starbucks, through the downshifting and voluntary simplicity movements, the rise of ethical consumption and organic and the high profile of films and books like Supersize Me! and No Logo. A rising awareness of labor conditions in overseas plants, the environmental impact of intensified consumer lifestyles and the effects of neo-liberal privatization have all stimulated such popular cultural opposition. However, the subject of anti-consumerism has received relatively little theoretical attention – particularly from cultural studies, which is surprising given the discipline’s historical investments in extending radical politics and exploring the complexities of consumer desire.
This book considers how the expanding resources of contemporary cultural theory might be drawn upon to understand anti-consumerist identifications and practices; how railing against the social and cultural effects of consumerism has a complex past as well as present; and it pays attention to the interplays between the different movements of anti-consumerism and the particular modes of consumer culture in which they exist. In addition, as well as ‘using’ cultural studies to analyse anti-consumerism, it also asks how such anti-consumerist practices and discourse challenges some of the presumptions and positions currently held in cultural studies.
This book was previously published as a special issue of Cultural Studies.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Cultural Studies and Anti-Consumerism: A Critical Encounter Jo Littler and Sam Binkley 2. Young Women and Consumer Culture: An Intervention Angela McRobbie 3. Against the commodification of everything: Anti-consumerist cultural studies in the age of ecological crisis Jeremy Gilbert 4. ‘Alternative Hedonism, Cultural Theory and the Role of Aesthetic Revisioning’ Kate Soper 5. Tackling Turbo Consumption: An interview Juliet Schor and Jo Littler 6. Liquid Consumption: Anti-Consumerism and the Fetishized De-Fetishization of Commodities Sam Binkley 7. The elusive subjects of neoliberalism: Beyond the analytics of governmentality Clive Barnett, Nick Clarke, Paul Cloke and Alice Malpass 8. Consuming the Campesino: Fair Trade Marketing between Recognition and Romantic Commodification Matthias Zick Varul 9. Alternative realities: downshifting narratives in contemporary lifestyle television Lyn Thomas 10. Fourth worlds and neo-Fordism: American Apparel and the cultural economy of consumer anxiety Jo Littler and Liz Moor 11. Consuming Authenticity: From Outposts of Difference to Means of Exclusion Sharon Zukin 12. Fashioning Social Justice through Political Consumerism, Capitalism, and the Internet Michele Micheletti and Dietlind Stolle 13. The Quandaries of Consumer-Based Labor Activism: A Low-Wage Case Study Andrew Ross
Sam Binkley is Associate Professor of Sociology at Emerson College, USA. He is author of Getting Loose: Lifestyle Consumption in the 1970s (2007) and is currently working on a book on neoliberalism and happiness.
Jo Littler is Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Middlesex University, UK. She is co-editor (with Roshi Naidoo) of The Politics of Heritage: The Legacies of ‘Race’ (2005) and author of Radical Consumption? Shopping for Change in Contemporary Culture (2009).