As a global society we are pushed up against the limits of our planet and atmosphere, and we live in an age of widening wealth gaps and growing class stratification. Workers around the world, from factory workers in Shenzhen, China to warehouse workers in San Bernardino, California strike for higher wages and better working conditions while consumer debt in the United States climbs. The “hoodie” sweatshirt is simultaneously a symbol of criminal behavior and of resistance to racism. Political engagement is increasingly channeled through consumerism, whether as a purchase of a fair trade product, or as digital activism conducted via one’s personal computer or smartphone.
The ASA Section on Consumers & Consumption seeks to foster dialogue and debate about the place of consumer goods in social life, and the role of consumer culture in shaping the lives of all members of global society. Our interests and concerns range from the process of personal identity formation to the identity politics of gendered, raced and classed displays; from historical work on the rise of consumer culture to a critique of Apple’s advertising; from investigations of typical places of consumption to the study of the dynamics of globalization and urban life. Sociologists affiliated with this section seek to illuminate the pervasiveness of consumer goods and consumerism in shaping our everyday lives, the social structure, and the contemporary social, political, economic, and environmental problems that we face as a global society. We exist to enrich the exchanges of scholars interested in understanding these phenomena and their implications, but also, to share with members of the media and the public at large our research and writing. We welcome contact from all who are interested in learning about what we do.
To learn more about the intricacies of this subfield within sociology, read our Section Proposal to the American Sociological Association, which details the history of consumer studies and highlights themes and foci of contemporary research.