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Commercial Cultures in Global Capitalism (SO240-15)

“Life is not complete without shopping” said a senior Singaporean politician. Why and how does consumption and consumer culture matter to social life? How does this differ in different parts of the world? How is consumption produced, and is there a global consumer culture?

We will explore these kinds of questions by looking at the work of cultural intermediaries to produce consumption, at spectacular and mundane forms of consumption, and at the spread and significance of brand culture and brand values. We will explore how emotions are caught up in, and generated by commercial practices, and we will consider design and fashion, asking whether the extensive aestheticisation of consumer culture has an anaesthetic effect. We will question the ethics of commercial cultures, exploring the supply chains and environmental externalities that lie behind the freedoms of wealthy consumers to throw away their year-old phones and to buy fast fashion. Students will be encouraged to compare consumerism between times and places, and to understand the production of consumption.

Module Director

Lynne Pettinger

Timing and CATS

This module will run in the Spring Term of the 2016/17 academic year and is worth 15 CATS.