The socio-spatial construction of consumption: a historical and contemporary analysis

Hush, Gordon James (2009) The socio-spatial construction of consumption: a historical and contemporary analysis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis explores the possibility of a modern consumption distinct from discussions of the ‘consumer,’ ‘consumption,’ ‘consumerism’ and the ‘consumer society’ and rejects the possibility of a universal or ‘human’ consumption-activity rooted in use that merely varies with space and time. This is done by exploring the roots of these terms in the philosophical
anthropology of economic theory, specifically the concept of homo oeconomicus. The economic inheritance within contemporary accounts of the capitalist consumption-relation is then pursued through a review of the disciplinary approaches to the topic made by historical accounts of ‘consumer culture,’ the study of patterns of use across the social
sciences, from psychology, through geography to marketing and anthropology. Finally, the contemporary sociological investigation of ‘consumption’ is critiqued and its broad reliance upon a utilitarian-derived cost/benefit model adapted to incorporate ‘sign-value’ and discussions of postmodernism are rejected.

This prompts the proposal of a ‘postphenomenological’ approach to the study of modern consumption and the ‘terrain’ upon which it is available to experience. The bulk of the thesis, chapters three, four and five, are taken up with a review of the contemporary commodity-form using the phenomenological categories of space, time and causality, respectively. This allows a historical perspective to be employed in the analysis of the role of material factors in the constitution of subjective experience and its role within the emergence of modern consumption. The theory of modern consumption and the sociospatial terrain upon which it unfolds is developed through the concept of ‘affordance,’ adapted from environmental psychology and a re-definition of ‘possession’ that arises from the inter-relation of being and having. This allows the rejection of the orthodox models and theories of ‘consumption’ outlined in chapter two. The thesis concludes by advocating an engagement in a ‘playful’ modern consumption that engages with the commodity-form as the medium within which contemporary ‘experience’ is transmitted and, which, consequently, forms the of the phenomenal forms of subjective experience derived from the capitalist consumption-relation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Post-phenomenological, capitalist, consumption, modern consumption, experience, affordance, socio-spatial, being and having, modernité, space, time and causality,
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Frisby, Prof. David P.
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Mr Gordon J. Hush
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-900
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:27

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