Vol. 9, No. 1, November 2007

Sam Binkley
newsletter designer
Emerson University

Dan Cook
Rutgers University- Camden

George Ritzer
long-time, dedicated supporter
University of Maryland-College Park

Mike Ryan
listserv manager
University of Maryland—College Park

Statement of Purpose
The organizing group for the Consumer Studies Research Network seeks to foster dialogue and debate among those who are interested in and concerned about the place of goods and commodities in social life. These interests and concerns may range from the poetics of micro/personal identity formation to the identity politics of gendered, raced and classed display, from historical work on the rise of consumer culture to a critique of Nike advertising, from investigations of typical places of consumption to the study the dynamics of globalization and urban areas. Individuals affiliated with the Consumer Studies Research Network desire to bring to the fore, in their own ways, the depths to which commodities and a market logic have come to pervade virtually all forms of social life and social interaction. The primary goal is to begin to engage in an interchange.


Dan Cook
Consumer Studies Research Network
Rutgers University
405-7 Cooper Street
Camden, NJ 08102
phone: 856-225-2816
fax: 856-225-6435

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by David Ekerdt
University of Kansas

No, this is not a sequel to The Exorcist.

Dispossession is about the parting of people and their things, something that happens at the end of the consumption cycle. 

At a February 2007 conference at the University of London on “Consumption and Generational Change,” I attempted to map the problem of dispossession, a brief summary of which follows.

Some of these observations flow from my research on “household disbandment” in later life, being the activities that people undertake to reduce the volume of their possessions in the course of a residential move to smaller quarters, a process with practical, cognitive, emotional, and social dimensions.


Calls for Papers

Books of Note

CSRN Announcements

Exploring Consumer Perceptions
in a Food Backwater

by Susan Munkres
Furman University

Until five years ago, I was a comfortable Madison, WI alternative foodie consumer.  I bought most of my produce and meat and cheese at the farmers’ markets and food coops that were on my biking route to and from the University of Wisconsin.  I was friends with local farmers; I knew whose cheese didn’t have rBGH in it and who did and didn’t use sprays, even if they weren’t officially certified organic.  I followed the kerfuffle over organic certification rules in 2000 – the coop posted notices and encouraged us to write letters of protest to our Congresspeople – and I participated in discussions when the coop debated whether or not to go entirely organic, even if that meant not buying as much local produce.  (They decided to stay local).  When newspapers and magazines – even Time! – proclaimed that “local was the new organic,” I agreed:  all around me were local organic farmers, selling directly to consumers in community- supported agriculture ventures and at farmers’ markets. 

But when I moved to South Carolina, things suddenly became more complicated.  The doubling of farmers’ markets around the country (Halweil 2004) hadn’t brought anything more than a small market to my new downtown, and of the four or five produce vendors, two were wholesalers of non-local produce.  There were a few remaining old-timey local farms that were about as far from organic as you can get and a handful of folks who had small-scale farms (gardens, really) who said they didn’t use sprays.  Looking online, I found there were 14 certified organic acres in my entire state.  Suddenly, local wasn’t looking like the new organic; organic was new (and strange), and local was old-time. 


Kitsch Me If You Can, Doughboy
by Eugene Halton
University of Notre Dame

Back in the day, kitsch got a bad reputation as bad art. Not only those dogs-playing- poker paintings by C. M. Coolidge, immortalized on black velvet, or Mona Lisa t-shirts, but any stilted work would qualify. The epitome of this tendency was expressed by Clement Greenburg, who once stated of academic painting, “All kitsch is academic, and conversely, all that is academic is kitsch.” Now this seems to me an overly restrictive view of academic painting, even though I like it as an apt description of academic life. But kitsch is worse than bad art; it is a whole way of being. It tends to be underappreciated how kitsch is one of the system requirements of the Great Dehumanization Machine of globalizing capitalism.

In America, Big Zombie merrily ingests kitsch in the varieties of ways it is constantly beamed at him and her: eat‑kitsch, ad‑kitsch, franchise‑kitsch, mall‑kitsch, ...

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