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Consumer Culture


Pellandini-Simányi L.

Course director

Paradiso C.



The Consumer Culture course provides, first, an overview of the processes through which consumer goods and services are imbued with cultural meanings (starting from macro-cultural influences, to the meaning-making work of marketing and product design down to consumer appropriation), covering key theories. Second, it introduces students to the main critical angles that have been applied historically and in current discourse to examine the social and cultural implications of consumer culture. Finally, it gives an overview of the key analytical tools to understand consumer culture – both from a critical and from a commercial point of view.


The course will enable students to 

  1. become familiar with the most important theories of how consumer and material cultures are formed and how they change
  2. understand the role of consumer and material culture in the reproduction and change of social groups, hierarchy, identity and culture 
  3. distinguish and apply different analytical tools to understand consumer culture
  4. understand the key critical angles and engage in an informed critique of consumer culture
  5. understand the role marketing plays in the shaping of consumer culture and how it can tap into consumer culture to deliver better products, services, and experiences
  6. as future marketing professionals, understand their own role, options, and responsibilities as producers of consumer culture.

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

  • Lectures
  • Guided readings (with study questions)
  • Debates among students
  • Individual  essay

Attendance is not compulsory, however, in order to obtain the full class participation mark (see below), students need to participate in at least six sessions, excluding the first and the last session.

Examination information

  • Exam: 70%
  • Individual essay: 25%
  • Class participation: 5%

Pass is from grade 6. To pass, students need to acquire a grade 6 both in the exam and in the overall mark.