Course description


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


The course is divided into three parts: a) an introductory part in which the various theories that have analysed the changes in consumer culture and practices 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 consumer behaviour and sustainability. Within this last part, particular attention will be paid to the debate on the consequences of consumerism and on those social movement organizations that express a critical view of the “consumer society”.


Frontal lessons as well as class discussions. During class discussions, students are required to participate. Discussions are partly based on articles/chapters that students will have to read before discussions. The list of readings will be included in the schedule of the course activities posted on Moodle at the beginning of the course.


2 hours written exam. The exam will consist in four open ended questions.

The evaluation criteria of the open questions are: (a) completeness of the answer (b) appropriate use of the discipline’s own language; (c) the validity of the argument; (c) communicative effectiveness and ability to summarize.

**Students attending at least 75 percent of classes can choose one of the following options:

  1. First option: 2 hours written exam (as above).
  2. Second option: oral and written presentation of a paper in a common seminar on an issue agreed upon with the instructor (read more about the final paper…). The paper will have to be given in to the instructor by the date chosen for the exam.


Joel Stillerman, 2015, The Sociology of Consumption. A Global Approach. Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 1-225

John Storey, 2017, Theories of Consumption. London: Routledge, pp. 1-144

Barry Smart, 2010, Consumer Society. Critical Issues and Environmental Consequences. London: Sage, pp. 1-256

Magnus Boström, Michele Micheletti, and Peter Oosterveer, 2018, The Oxford Handbook of Political Consumerism. Oxford: Oxford University Press (only Introduction and Part I)


Updated information about the course will be posted on Moodle platform.