1st Edition

Producing and Consuming the Craft Beer Movement

By Wesley Shumar, Tyson Mitman Copyright 2023
    164 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Producing and Consuming the Craft Beer Movement is an ethnographic analysis of the craft beer movement and its rapid development as an industry that articulated a different set of values: celebrating, quality, community, and good taste.

    This book will provide an excellent foundation for considering craft beer and an entrepreneurial practice that produces other forms of value beyond monetary value. The craft beer movement has been an important movement for thinking about contemporary consumer culture, and how that consumer culture might develop a very different set of values and priorities from those of the dominant consumer culture that is created by large-scale industries focused on the instrumental values of profit and efficiency. Located in one site, the ethnography is situated within the larger context of the rise of digital media, the evolution of cities, and the latest stage of the capitalist marketplace. The book is distinctive as it is ethnographic in its methodology. It is focused on one locale, the metropolitan area around Philadelphia. Philadelphia, along with Boston, Denver, San Diego, and a few other cities, was a central location for the early development of the craft beer industry. With its interdisciplinary approach, individuals with interests in digital and social media, consumer culture, political economy, ethnography, and contemporary cultural theory will find this an interesting case study of an important industry that developed from the homebrewing movement to become an important craft industry that is now a global phenomenon.

    This book is directed to a broad range of readers interested in new media, consumer culture, craft, and contemporary capitalist culture. The book embeds the local in the larger historical and political economic context. Readers would include faculty members in communication, media studies, cultural studies, sociology, and anthropology. Students at a graduate and upper level undergraduate level would be interested as well.

    Chapter 1 – Introduction: The Craft Community


    What Is Craft?

    Central Themes

    Chapters in the Book

    Chapter 2 – Brewing and Doing Ethnography




    Positivist Science

    Counter Narratives and Trends

    Theoretical Practice


    Chapter 3 – History of Craft Beer





    Brewing in the United States

    Early Beer History

    Post War Mass Culture and Mass Culture Beer

    Craft Beer Begins in the United States


    Craft Brewing in Philadelphia

    Chapter 4 – Political Economy and Craft Beer


    From Welfare Capitalism to Neoliberalism

    Globalization and the Political Economy of Consumer Capitalism

    The Information Revolution

    Spatial Transformations

    Transformations in Consumer Culture (Taste Revolution)

    Craft Beer in Britain: A Comparison


    Chapter 5 – Knowledge Production and Social Reproduction


    Invisible College

    Communities of Practice and Affinity Spaces




    Chapter 6 – Digital Media and the Possibility of Craft

    Opening Story

    Digital Media and Space



    Chapter 7 – Values and Value Production

    Opening Story


    Authenticity Again

    Value and Values

    Beer Labels

    From Being to Becoming


    Chapter 8 – Blurring the Edges: Craft Beer’s Limitations


    Craft Beer and Alcoholism

    White Male Culture of Homebrewing and Craft Brewing

    Craft Beer and Race

    Craft Beer and Gender


    Chapter 9 – Conclusion

    Quality over Mass Consumption

    Community and Authenticity


    Digital Media

    Current Tensions

    Final Thoughts


    Wesley Shumar is a Professor in the Department of Communication at Drexel University. His research is focused on the commodification of culture, the cultural production of value, the transformation of space, time, and communicative interaction through digital technologies, and the social and interactive processes of learning. His work on higher education focuses on the cultural and spatial transformation of American universities within an increasingly consumerist economy. His work on learning focuses on the ways the internet and digital technologies can enhance learning interactions. He is currently exploring the craft economy and the production of value. He is author of College for Sale: A Critique of the Commodification of Higher Education, and Inside Mathforum.org: Analysis of an Online Mathematics Education Community. He is also the co-editor of Structure and Agency in the Neoliberal University and Building Virtual Communities: Learning and Change in Cyberspace.

    Tyson Mitman is a senior lecturer in Sociology and Criminology at York St John University. His research examines space and culture. Specifically, how culture and space intersect and interact with each other, how we make our lives through the cultural groups and practices we value, and how we position and debate power, identity, and representation though how we construct differing cultural groups and how those groups are differently allowed to use public and private spaces. Much of his research has been about public aesthetics and graffiti culture. It has focused on how individuals who write graffiti construct their identity within their subculture, how their interaction with public space produces a type of political discourse, and how graffiti affects spaces and those who use those spaces. He is the author of The Art of Defiance: Graffiti, Politics, and the Reimagined City in Philadelphia. He cares deeply about craft beer and respects the producers who are driven by a desire to produce the best product they can, not merely the most profitable one. He believes, at its best, craft beer (and most craft production) helps make caring and informed communities who are capable of resisting the corporate mediocrity mass production so often tries to heap onto all of us.