Tag Archives: consumerism

Consumer Culture and Postmodernism (Mike Featherstone)

consumer-culture-postmodernism-mike-featherstone-paperback-cover-art“I first became interested in consumer culture in the late 1970s. The stimulus was the writings of members of the Frankfurt School and other proponents of Critical Theory which were featured and discussed so well in journals like Telos and New German Critique. The theories of the culture industry, reification, commodity fetishism and the instrumental rationalization of the world directed attention away from a focus on production towards consumption and processes of cultural change.” (excerpt from “Preface to the First Edition”)

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The Culture Industry (Theodor Adorno)

The Culture Industry“The term culture industry was perhaps used for the first time in the book Dialectic of Enlightenment, which Horkheimer and I published in Amsterdam in 1947. In our drafts we spoke of ‘mass culture’. We replaced that expression with ‘culture industry’ in order to exclude from the outset the interpretation agreeable to its advocates: that it is a matter of something like a culture that arises spontaneously from the masses themselves, the contemporary form of popular art. From the latter the culture industry must be distinguished in the extreme. The culture industry fuses the old and familiar into a new quality. In all its branches, products which are tailored for consumption by masses
and which to a great extent determine the nature of that consumption, are manufactured more or less according to plan. The individual branches are similar in structure or at least fit into each other, ordering themselves into a system almost without a gap…” -Theodor Adorno

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Fashion Models as Ideal Embodiments of Normative Identity (Patrícia Soley-Beltran)

“This paper examines fashion models as gender myths and cultural icons through a cultural history of modelling. It reveals the construction of models’ personas by the successive addition of meaningful signs: physique, manner, attitude, nationality, class, race, salary, chamaleonism, slenderness, and so on. The author argues that models’ glamour expresses economic and social power and promotes the values of consumerism, while exporting cultural ideals through visual neo-colonialism. On the basis of empirical material on models’ experiences gathered from interviews, second oral sources and autobiographical material, the author approaches models’ bodies, identities and public personas as artefacts performed through the reiteration of collectively defined gender standards and practices. This approach overcomes the contrast cast in fashion discourse between visibility/invisibility, private/public, real/unreal while disclosing the hegemonic beauty standards as fiction.” (abstract)

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Fashion (Georg Simmel)

“The tendency towards imitation characterizes a stage of development in which the desire for expedient personal activity is present, but from which the capacity for possessing the individual acquirements is absent. It is interesting to note the exactness with which children insist upon the repetition of facts, how they constantly clamor for a repetition of the same games and pastimes, how they will object to the slightest variation in the telling of a story they have heard twenty times. In this imitation and in exact adaptation to the past the child first rises above its momentary existence; the immediate content of life reaches into the past, it expands the present for the child, likewise for primitive man; and the pedantic exactness of this adaptation to the given formula need not be regarded offhand as a token of poverty or narrowness. At this stage every deviation from imitation of the given facts breaks the connection which alone can now unite the present with something that is more than the present, something that tends to expand existence as a mere creature of the moment. The advance beyond this stage is reflected in the circumstance that our thoughts, actions, and feelings are determined by the future as well as by fixed, past, and traditional factors: the teleological individual represents the counterpole of the imitative mortal. The imitator is the passive individual, who believes in social similarity and adapts himself to existing elements; the teleological individual, on the other hand, is ever experimenting, always restlessly striving, and he relies on his own personal conviction.” (from Georg Simmel’s Fashion)

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The Fashion System (Roland Barthes)

fashionsystem-cvrIn his consideration of the language of the fashion magazine—the structural analysis of descriptions of women’s clothing by writers about fashion—Barthes gives us a brief history of semiology. At the same time, he identifies economics as the underlying reason for the luxuriant prose of the fashion magazine: “Calculating, industrial society is obliged to form consumers who don’t calculate; if clothing’s producers and consumers had the same consciousness, clothing would be bought (and produced) only at the very slow rate of its dilapidation.” (taken from this site)

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