Consumption and Citizenship - Consumption and Citizenship...

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Consumption and Citizenship Defining the “Consumer” and the “Citizen” Can you combine the two--”consumer-citizen” or “citizen-consumer”? Maniates : “buy a bike, save the world” – Focus on individual consumer behavior distracts from collective solutions; two different imaginations? o Our choices direct out attentions to the wrong problems and wrong solutions o “Individualization of responsibility” emphasis on responsibility on the private, individual, independent choices o Idea that if we add up all those (good) choices, we can bring about social and economic change o BUT consumers can only choose from the range of choices that are offered by the market, so how can that know what really is “right”? o Real pathway to change is the collective action of many people together demanding change at the level of social institutions o Contrast between the actions people take as consumers and the actions they take as citizens Citizen and consumer as diametrically opposed? (Jhonston p. 247) o Wholefoods only place where we might look for a citizen-consumer hybrid o Consumerism, most broadly defined, is an emphasis upon maximizing individual interest through choice in the marketplace Consumers or Citizens? Bauman : From “work ethic” and work-based identities to “consumer aesthetic” and consumer-based identities o Societal shift from producer rooted in work and employment) to consumer society (identities expressed through consumer-like choices in the market place o Shift has eroded the “solid” identities associated with work and place and replaced them with a more “liquid” society in which identities are ever changing and unstable (Trentmann 2007) o Tension between “freedoms” and “self-pleasures” promoted by a consumer society pursuit of individual happiness AND responsibility towards others and the subordination of the self to others These ideas have changed over time Understandings of consumption shape the relationship among state, civil society, and market Cohen – history of the rise of consumer societies; understandings and consumption have shaped the way in which the state and the civil sphere interact with and are shaped by market forces o Citizen consumers – act on behalf of the collective good
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Depression and WW2 Responsible for safe-guarding the general good of the nation Utilized market power for political and collective ends, encouraging the gvt to expand consumer protection, safety and fair treatment Women were enlisted to both implement and adhere to wartime restrictions on consumption in an effort to aid the nation of hardship Prevent shortages by getting people to not buy luxury goods o Purchaser consumer – self-interested, but add up to the general good Viewed consumers as disconnected individuals who formed a positive force and became quite important at the end of WW2 when consumer spending was viewed as a key mechanism for transforming a wartime
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