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Jane Collins

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.

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Can Consumer Demand Deliver Sustainable Food?

Recent Research in Sustainable Consumption Policy and Practice

Cindy Isenhour

From Slow Food and farmers' markets to ecolabels and fair trade an unprecedented number of consumer-based alternative food movements have risen in response to concerns about the environmental and social effects of industrialized agriculture. Some research suggests that these movements are successful in their efforts to reconnect communities, demystify global food chains, and produce sustainable foods, which are healthier for the planet and human bodies. Yet other scholars argue that the contemporary focus on consumer responsibility in policy and practice indicates much more than a process of reflexive modernization. The devolution of responsibility to consumers and the dominance of market-based solutions, these scholars argue, reflect the growing influence of neoliberal environmental governance. From this perspective these movements are naive in their assumption that consumers have the power necessary to overcome the structural barriers that inhibit significant change. These critics argue that the focus on consumer responsibility excludes those without access to consumer choice, reproduces social hierarchies, and fails to deliver the political and redistributive solutions necessary to achieve sustainability. Drawing on research across the social sciences this article surveys the existing evidence about the effectiveness of consumer-based movements in their attempts to create sustainable food systems.

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Communism, Consumerism, and Gender in Early Cold War Film

The Case of Ninotchka and Russkii vopros

Rhiannon Dowling

This article deals with ideologies of domesticity, femininity, and consumerism as they were articulated in two films in the early Cold War. These films, shown in occupied Berlin from the spring of 1948 through the first few months of 1949, were Ernst Lubitsch's Hollywood classic Ninotchka (1939) and the Soviet film Russkiivopros (The Russian Question, 1948). They portrayed competing notions of domestic consumption and the “good life” in the aftermath of the Second World War—issues more commonly understood to have characterized the later, thaw-era, years of the conflict. Though they were shown at a time of heightened political and ideological tensions, neither painted a one-dimensional or demonized portrait of the enemy. Instead, both films employed narratives about the private lives and material desires of women in order to humanize their enemies and yet make a statement about the inhuman nature of the other system.

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Timothy B. Leduc and Susan A Crate

This article is concerned with the way in which indigenous place-based knowledge and understandings, in a time of global climate change, have the potential to challenge researchers to self-reflexively shift the focus of their research toward those technological and consumer practices that are the cultural context of our research. After reviewing some literature on the emergence of self-reflexivity in research, the authors offer two case studies from their respective environmental education and anthropological research with northern indigenous cultures that clarifies the nature of a self-reflexive turn in place-based climate research and education. The global interconnections between northern warming and consumer culture-and its relation to everexpanding technological systems-are considered by following the critical insights of place-based knowledge. We conclude by examining the possibility that relocalizing our research, teaching, and ways of living in consumer culture are central to a sustainable future, and if so, the knowledge and understandings of current place-based peoples will be vital to envisioning such a cultural transformation of our globalizing system.

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Brian Wemp

The Grands Magasins Dufayel, a huge department store built on the northern fringe of late nineteenth-century Paris, had an important cultural influence on the city's working class. In a neighborhood with few public spaces, it provided a consumer version of the public square. It encouraged workers to approach shopping as a social activity, just as the bourgeoisie did at the famous department stores in central Paris. Like the bourgeois stores, it helped transform consumption from a personal transaction between customer and merchant into an unmediated relationship between consumer and goods. Through advertising the store portrayed itself as a space where the working-class visitor could participate in new and exciting forms of entertainment and technology. Its unique instore cinema and exhibits of inventions like X-ray machines and the gramophone created a new kind of urban space that celebrated the close relationship between technology and consumer culture.

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Introduction

Locating Tween Girls

Melanie Kennedy and Natalie Coulter

We reflect on the media coverage of Amy “Dolly” Everett’s death by suicide to highlight the continued spectacularization of tweenhood as an idealized form of white feminine beauty tied to consumer culture, and one that shores up contradictory notions of the can-do/at-risk girl binary. We consider contemporary tweenhood’s continuities with the visibility and concerns of girlhood from the 1990s while questioning what a definition of tweenhood in the age of digital media and beyond the boundaries of whiteness, heteronormativity, able-bodiedness, and the Global North might look like. Calling for a discursive approach to understandings and conceptualizations of tweens, we introduce the eight articles in this special issue that range from media representations of the tween to lived experiences of actual tween girls.

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Reading Production and Culture

UK Teen Girl Comics from 1955 to 1960

Joan Ormrod

In this article I explore the production of teen girl comics such as Marilyn, Mirabelle, Roxy and Valentine in the promotion of pop music and pop stars from 1955 to 1960. These comics developed alongside early pop music and consisted of serial and self-contained picture stories, beauty and pop music articles, advice columns, and horoscopes. Materiality is a key component of the importance of comics in the promotional culture in a media landscape in which pop music was difficult to access for teenage girls. I analyze the comics within their historical and cultural framework and show how early British pop stars were constructed through paradoxical discourses such as religion, consumerism, and national identity to make them safe for teen girl consumption. The promotion of these star images formed the foundation for later pop music promotion and girl fan practices.

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The Battle of the Mountains

Repatriating Folly in France in the Aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars

Christine Haynes

At the beginning of the Second Restoration, Paris was swept by a mania for roller coasters, which were dubbed montagnes russes after a Russian tradition of sledding on ice hills. Situating this phenomenon in the context of the military occupation of France following the defeat of Napoleon, this article analyzes one of the many plays featuring these “mountains,” Le Combat des montagnes (“The Battle of the Mountains”), and especially two of its main characters, La Folie (Folly) and Calicot (Calico Salesman). The “battle” over the roller coasters, it argues, was really a contest over how to redefine national identity around consumer culture rather than military glory. Through the lens of the montagnes russes, the article offers a new perspective on the early Restoration as an aftermath of war.

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Lisa Lindén

This article investigates direct-to-consumer advertising in Sweden for Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, as a contemporary gendered technology of the adolescent girl body. It explores how, by constructing girls as ideal users of the vaccine, advertising campaigns encourage adolescent girls to vaccinate themselves. Using a feminist visual discourse analysis, the article examines how different girl subjectivities are constructed through advertising, and presented as fit for Gardasil use and consumption. It highlights how, along with their parents, adolescent girls in Sweden are encouraged to assume responsibility for managing the risks of cervical cancer in order to help secure their future health, sexuality and normality. It argues that the Gardasil campaign, in being addressed to individual members of the population, serves to articulate global and national discourses of girlhood, sexuality, (sexual) health responsibility, risk management and consumption.

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Digital Natives

Making Sense of the Digital Political Landscape and Assessing the Potential for Mobilization versus Apathy

Patrick Readshaw

Those aged 18 to 25 are frequently cited in political rhetoric and scientific literature as one of the most apathetic demographics in Britain. They simultaneously constitute the prime users of new digital media. The assumption of apathy is based on traditional conceptions of political engagement—attendance at rallies, membership in political parties, and voting—that don’t consider a phenomenon like political consumerism, which is estimated to account for 22 to 44 percent of political engagement in the United States and Europe. This article explores youth involvement in politics by drawing on a series of interpretative phenomenological analysis interviews regarding social media usage and its suitability as a medium for facilitating political and civic mobilization. It argues that social media enables people to obtain political knowledge and generate feelings of solidarity, and illustrates how internal belief systems act as predictors of trust in the existing political structure and the media systems surrounding it.