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Consumer Culture


Pellandini-Simányi L.

Docente titolare del corso

Conte L.



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.

Course objectives
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.

Course description
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. 

Learning methods

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

Evaluation procedures and Grading criteria

  • Exam: 60%
  • Individual essay: 30%
  • Class participation: 10%

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

Required materials
A reader of selected texts will be available on iCorsi. This is an indicative reading list.

Askegaard, S. and Linnet, J. T. 2011. Towards an epistemology of consumer culture theory: Phenomenology and the context of context. Marketing Theory, 11(4), 381–404.
Bauman, Z. 2001. Consuming Life. Journal of Consumer Culture, 1(1), 9-29.
Bourdieu,P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (London:Routledge & Kegan Paul).
Buchli, V., 2002. The material culture reader. Oxford: Berg. (selected parts)
Cochoy, F., et al., eds., 2017. Digitalizing Consumption: How devices shape consumer culture. Oxon; New York: Routledge. (selected parts)
Daunton, M. J. and Hilton, M., eds., 2001. The Politics of Consumption: Material Culture and Citizenship in Europe and America. Oxford, New York: Berg. (selected parts)
Howes, D., ed., 1996. Cross-cultural consumption: global markets, local realities. London: Routledge.
Lury, C., 1996. Consumer Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press. (selected parts)
Pellandini-Simanyi, L., 2014. Consumption Norms and Everyday Ethics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (selected parts)
Slater, D., 1997. Consumer Culture and Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press. (selected parts)
Schor, J. B. (1991) The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (New York, NY: Basic Books).
Thompson, C. J. 1997. Interpreting Consumers: A Hermeneutical Framework for Deriving Marketing Insights from the Texts of Consumers’ Consumption Stories. Journal of Marketing Research, 34(4), 438-455.
Visconti, L. M., Penaloza, L. and Toulouse, N., eds., 2020. Marketing Management. London: Routledge. (selected parts)
Zelize r, V. A. (2011) Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy (Princeton,  NJ: Princeton University Press).

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