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Title: The socio-spatial construction of consumption : a historical and contemporary analysis
Author: Hush, Gordon James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2669 1356
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2009
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General) ; HM Sociology ; HB Economic Theory