The Politics of Consumption / The Consumption of Politics

In recent years American and European societies have confronted increasing concerns over the effects of globalization, environmental degradation, and excessive consumption, as well as questions about the ability of civic society to address these concerns. As citizens are pushed to consume more and to celebrate the individual to the detriment of civic engagement, the interplay between consumption, markets, media, politics, and the citizen-consumer remains a complex and provocative topic. Has civil society declined in favor of consumer society? Can we separate civic culture from consumer culture? Some scholars argue that the rise of political consumerism or lifestyle politics - where socially conscious consumers support or boycott products and corporations in ways that demonstrate their political views - illustrates just how tightly interwoven consumption and civic duty have become. Furthermore, political campaigns as well as social movements and initiatives have become steeped in marketing tactics using branding, staged media events, and market segmentation strategies. What are the effects of socially conscious consumerism on civil society? In October 2006, an international conference titled The Politics of Consumption/The Consumption of Politics drew leading scholars from Europe and North America to discuss these challenging questions and issues. Using theory and research, the conference spurred lively discussion as well as the insightful papers included in this special volume of The ANNALS. Central themes included in this volume: The relations between consumers, citizens, and the state Consumer and citizen responses to the market The branding of politicians and social movements Political consumerism as a form of activism Scholars and students will find that while these essays address crucial issues, they also shed light on the levels of complexity of this important topic, serving as a springboard for further research on the politics of consumption. Drawing from a myriad of disciplines, including political science, sociology, communication, media studies, and economics, this volume is a must-have for scholars, professionals, and policymakers who want to better understand modern consumer society and its implications for the political and civic arena.