ISF 100I: Consumer Society and Culture

ISF 100 I Consumer Society and Culture -- edit || clone
  • MTWT 10-12
  • Fang Xu
  • GPB 103
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 15109

Session Dates: July 3 - August 11

Following Weber, Veblen, and Bourdieu, social scientists often emphasize consumers’ motivations to establish or display their status. In many ways, consumption defines our lives – our identities as consumers are even more important, some would argue, than our identities as workers or producers. But what are the implications of a society in which “you are what you consume?” In this class, we will address: Under what conditions does a “consumer society” develop?  What does global commodity chain tell us about colonialization, global inequality, and environmental injustice? How can we shape the life cycle of basic commodities—from raw materials to iPhones, from creation to destruction--in a socially sustainable way? This course will be interdisciplinary in its attempt to understand consumer society and culture in terms of political economy, geography, history, anthropology and sociology. It is divided into six major segments: "Consumption and Inequality," "Consumption, Meaning and Identity," "Global Commodity Chain," "Consumption in Contemporary China,” “Critiques of Consumer Society," and “Environment, Sustainability, and Social Justice”. The goal of this course is to provide students with a broad overview of debates and theories about consumption, and to provide them with an opportunity to explore a consumption-related topic themselves.

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