This article explores dominant ideological framings of the economic crisis that began in 2008, by examining shifting meanings of consumer citizenship in the US. The consumer citizen was a central figure in Keynesian ideology—one that encapsulated important assumptions about the proper relationship between production and consumption and the appropriate arenas for citizen engagement with the economy. Taking Wal-Mart as a case-study example, the article analyzes the way that corporate actors have flattened and reconfigured the concept of consumer citizenship in the US—promoting the “consumer” over the “citizen” and the “worker,” which had previously been important aspects of the concept—and have replaced Keynesian-era conversations about the proper balance between production and consumption with a rhetoric of choice between low prices and high wages.
Response to Susser and Tonnelat
Susser and Tonnelat’s article on the three urban commons is both visionary and heartening. Its counterpastoral polemic glorifies urban modes of sociality and the forms of common property fostered by urban life. The authors find in cities communities of experience that cross class lines and create inadvertent coalitions around shared problems. They argue that specific components of what has been called “the right to the city” need to be understood as “commons”—collective property that is neither fully public nor private but shared by individuals as they go about everyday life in urban settings.