Lifestyles and Consumption Practices

Postgraduate module @Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento. By Francesca Forno

Program for the academic year 2022/2023

The course discusses major social, cultural, and economic changes in contemporary societies through the analysis of shifts that occurred in consumption patterns and practices. The main objective is to provide an advanced introduction to consumer theory and to the (interdisciplinary) field of consumption studies.

The course is divided into three parts a) an introductory part in which the various theories that have analyzed the changes in consumer culture and practice will be presented and discussed; b) a second part concerning the environmental and social consequences of contemporary consumerist society; c) a special part focusing on more specific issues regarding the relationship between consumption and sustainability. Within the latter part, special attention will be paid to the themes of food and eating.

Lectures will be a mixed approach of frontal lessons and class discussions. During class discussions, students are required to participate. Discussions are partly based on articles/chapters that students must read in advance. A lecture by lecture reading list will be included in the schedule of the course activities posted on Moodle at the beginning of the course.

Some core reading, especially important for non-attending students, are the following ones:

  • Bögenhold D. and Naz F. (2018) Consumption and Life-Styles: A Short Introduction, London: Palgrave.
  • Brand U. and Wissen M. (2021) The Imperial Mode of Living. Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism, London: Verso.
  • Warde A. (2016) The Practice of Eating, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Students attending at least 75 percent of classes will have the option to either take a 2 hours written exam (as non-attending students) or to prepare an oral presentation in a joint seminar and a written paper on an issue agreed upon with the instructor [more on the final paper HERE].

Lectures program

INTRODUCTION

  1. Introduction and course overview
    Compulsory reading:
    Warde, A. (2015) “The Sociology of Consumption: It’s Recent Development” Annual Review of Sociology, 41: 117–34.
    Suggested readings:
    Bögenhold, D. and Naz F. (2018) “Consumption: Different Perspective and Academic Responsibilities” in Consumption and Life-Styles, London, Palgrave: pp. 9-16.
    Bögenhold, D. and Naz F. (2018) “Consumption within the History of Economic and Social Thought” in Consumption and Life-Styles, London, Palgrave: pp-17-25.
  2. Production and consumption, economy and culture: a beginning of a conversation
    Compulsory reading:
    Zukin S. and Smith M. J. (2004) “Consumers and Consumption”, Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 30: 173-19.
    Suggested readings:
    Storey J. (2017) “Consumerism and Consumer Society”, in Theories of Consumption, London, Routledge: pp. 103-116.
  3. Why we consume (as we do)
    Compulsory reading:
    Storey J. (2017) “Why we consume”, in Theories of Consumption, London, Routledge: pp. 1-17.
    Suggested readings:
    Dubuisson-Quellier S. (2022) “How does affluent consumption come to consumers? A research agenda for exploring the foundations and lock-ins of affluent consumption”, Consumption and Society, Vol. 1: 31-50.
  4. Market fragmentation and Consumer Culture
    Compulsory reading:
    Stillerman J. (2015) “Marketing and Retail” in The Sociology of Consumption. A Global Approach, Cambridge, Polity Press: pp. 20-50.
    Stillerman J. (2015) “Market fragmentation and globalization” in The Sociology of Consumption. A Global Approach, Cambridge, Polity Press: pp. 51-82
    Suggested readings:
    Bögenhold, D. and Naz Farah (2018) “Culture, Advertising and Consumption” in Consumption and Life-Styles, London, Palgrave: pp. 53-74.
  5. Consumer culture and identity
    Compulsory reading:
    Storey J. (2017) “Consumption and Identity” in Theories of Consumption, London, Routledge: pp. 87-102.
    Suggested readings:
    Bögenhold, D. and Naz F. (2018) “Consumption, Lifestyles and Taste” in Consumption and Life-Styles, London, Palgrave: pp. 27-37.

SOCIAL DIFFERENCES AND CONSUMPTION

  1. Consumption, status and class
    Compulsory reading:
    Stillerman J., (2015) “Consumption, Status and Class” in The Sociology of Consumption. A Global Approach, Cambridge, Polity Press: pp. 83-108.
    Suggested readings:
    Bögenhold, D. and Naz F. (2018) “Conspicuous consumption” in Consumption and Life-Styles, London, Palgrave: pp.39-52.
  2. Lab. Students-led presentation and class discussion
    Dimaggio P and Useem M (1978) “Social Class and Arts Consumption: The Origins and Consequences of Class Differences in Exposure to the Arts in America”, Theory and Society, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 141-161
  3. Consumption, gender and race
    Compulsory reading:
    Bögenhold, D. and Naz F. (2018) “Gender and Social Relations of Consumption” in Consumption and Life-Styles, London, Palgrave: 75-86
    Suggested readings:
    Stillerman J. (2015) “Gender and Race at the Margins and Center of Consumption” in The Sociology of Consumption. A Global Approach, Cambridge, Polity Press: pp. 109-141.
  4. Lab. Students-led presentation and class discussion
    Beagan B, Chapman GE, D’Sylva A, Bassett BR. (2008) “’It’s Just Easier for Me to Do It’: Rationalizing the Family Division of Foodwork”. Sociology. 42(4):653-671.
  5. Consumption and life course
    Compulsory reading:
    Stillerman J., Ch. 6: “The Life Course” in The Sociology of Consumption. A Global Approach, Cambridge, Polity Press: pp. 142-162.
    Suggested readings:
    Schor, J. B (2003) “The Commodification of Childhood. Tales From The Advertising Front Lines” in The Hedgehog Review – Volume 5, No. 2 pp. 7-23.
  6. Lab. Students-led presentation and class discussion
    Higgs PF, Hyde M, Gilleard CJ, Victor CR, Wiggins RD, Jones IR. (2009) “From Passive to Active Consumers? Later Life Consumption in the UK from 1968–2005”. The Sociological Review 57(1):102-124.
  7. Recap and going forward
    Compulsory reading:
    Stillerman J., Ch. 8: “Consumer Citizenship in the Era of Globalization” pp.174-187
    Suggested readings:
    Bögenhold, D. and Naz Farah (2018) “In time of Globalization, Gift Giving and the McDonalization of Consumption” in Consumption and Life-Styles, London, Palgrave: pp.102-111.

CONSUMER SOCIETY, ITS CONSEQUENCES AND ALTERNATIVES

  1. Consumption, economic growth, and well being
    Compulsory reading:
    Smart, B. (2012) Consumer Society: Critical Issues and Environmental Consequences. London: Sage (Chapter 6 and 7: Consequences of Consumerism) [available on Moodle]
    Suggested readings:
    Bögenhold, D. and Naz F. (2018) “Money, Consumption, and Happiness” in Consumption and Life-Styles, London, Palgrave: pp.87-102.
  2. The concept of Sustainable development
    Compulsory reading:
    Tomislav K. (2018) “The Concept of Sustainable Development: From its Beginning to the Contemporary Issues” Zagreb International Review of Economics & Business, Vol. 21(1), pp. 67-94.
    Suggested readings:
    Kevin M. (2012) The social pillar of sustainable development: a literature review and framework for policy analysis, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 8:1, 15-29.
  3. Policy and governance for sustainable consumption
    Compulsory reading:
    Margit Keller M. Bente Halkier B. and Wilska T.A. (2016) “Policy and Governance for Sustainable Consumption at the Crossroads of Theories and Concepts” Environmental Policy and Governance, Vol. 26(2): 75-88
    Suggested readings:
    Welch D and Dale Southerton (2019) “After Paris: transitions for sustainable consumption”, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 15:1, 31-44
  4. Everyday life “in movement”
    Compulsory reading:
    Forno, F. and Wahlen, S. “Environmental activism and everyday life” in Grasso, M., and Giugni, M. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Movements, London: Routledge, 2022, p. 434-450
    Suggested readings:
    Micheletti, M. (2003) “Why Political Consumerism?” in Political Virtue and Shopping, London, Palgrave: 1-36.
    Brand, U. and Wissen, M (2012) Global Environmental Politics and the Imperial Mode of Living: Articulations of State – Capital Relations in the Multiple Crisis, Globalizations, 9(4): 547–560.
  5. Documentary and discussion
    TBD

FOOD AND EATING

  1. Theories of food consumption
    Compulsory reading:
    Beardsworth A. and Keil T. (1997) “Sociological perspective on food and eating” in Sociology on the Menu, London, Routledge: pp. 30-70.
    Suggested readings:
    Poulain J.P. (2017) “From sociological interest in food to sociologies of food”, in The Sociology of food”, London, Bloomsbury: pp. 136-167.
  2. What type of practice is eating?
    Compulsory reading:
    Warde, A (2016) “Elementary Forms of Eating”, in The Practice of Eating, London, Polity Press: pp. 52-79
    Suggested readings:
    Poulain J.P. (2017) “The evolution of eating practices”, in The Sociology of food”, London, Bloomsbury: pp. 40-62.
  3. Lab. Methods to study food consumption
  4. Eating out
    Compulsory reading:
    Warde A, Cheng S-L, Olsen W, Southerton D. (2007) “Changes in the Practice of Eating: A Comparative Analysis of Time-Use”, Acta Sociologica, 50(4):363-385.
    Suggested readings:
    Beardsworth A. and Keil T. (1997) “Eating out” in Sociology on the Menu, London, Routledge: pp. 100-122.
  5. Digital food
    Compulsory reading:
    Samsioe, E. and Fuentes. C. (2022) “Digitalizing shopping routines: Re-organizing household practices to enable sustainable food provisioning”, Sustainable Production and Consumption, Vol. 29: 807-819
    Suggested readings:
    Lewis, T. (2020) “The Shopping Complex: Food, Ethical Consumption and Apptivism” in Digital Food. From Paddock to Platform, London, Bloomsbury: pp. 127-147.
  6. Food and sustainability
    Compulsory reading:
    Corolan, M. (2012) “Food, Agriculture, and the Environment” in The Sociology of Food and Agriculture, London, Routledge: 223-245.
    Suggested readings:
    Dal Gobbo, A., Forno, F., Magnani, N. (2022) “Making ‘good food’ more practicable? The reconfiguration of alternative food provisioning in the online world” in Sustainable Production and Consumption: pp 862-871.
  7. Wrapping up and Q&A session
  8. Course project presentations and general discussion

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