Abstract/Details

New directions in the political economy of consumption


1997 1997

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Abstract (summary)

This dissertation surveys the literature on consumption across diverse paradigms in economics. It presents a critique of theories that posit an "authentic" mode of consumption free of contradiction. I argue that the view of the consumer constructed within neoclassical economic discourses as rational and utilitarian should be subjected to epistemological critique. While there have been economists who have challenged the conventional wisdom on consumption, their critiques have relied on notions such as manipulation and alienation--notions that presume the existence of a free and sovereign human subject waiting to be liberated from the evils of the consumer society. Both views--the mainstream and the heterodox--accept the premise that an "authentic" relationship between the subject and object of consumption is possible, and indeed desirable.

This "modernist" understanding of consumption is contrasted to developments in other disciplines that have explored consumption from a postmodern perspective. In a postmodern framework, consumption is not viewed as a process in which a consumer is or is not rational, but rather as a contradictory process in which consumer subjectivity is endogenously produced, contested and negotiated. The dissertation concludes by examining how postmodern theory could be applied to consumption within economics, and illustrates its significance with case studies of the natural foods and discount retail industries.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Economic theory
Classification
0511: Economic theory
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; postmodernism; retail
Title
New directions in the political economy of consumption
Author
MacNeill, Allan Henry
Number of pages
220
Publication year
1997
Degree date
1997
School code
0118
Source
DAI-A 58/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780591474978, 0591474972
Advisor
Wolff, Richard D.
University/institution
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
9737557
ProQuest document ID
304351108
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304351108
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