Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 4 hours


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Individual Research Project  of 3000 words  65%
Semester Exam Individual Viva Examination of 30 minutes  35%
Supplementary Assessment Individual Research Project  of 3000 words  65%
Supplementary Exam Individual Viva Examination of 30 minutes  35%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of the historical emergence of consumerism.

Describe and discuss a range of theoretical perspectives on consumption.

Critically evaluate a range of theoretical perspectives on consumption.

Explain and explore a range of consumption practices through the theories considered in the module.

Undertake and write-up a piece of primary research.

Communicate the findings of a piece of primary research by drawing on the theories considered in the module.


Consumerism now pervades every aspect of modern life. We live in a consumer society and increasingly come to define ourselves, and those around us, by what we possess. This module seeks to introduce a range of theoretical perspectives that help to understand consumerism and how it manifests itself within a range of social contexts.


Part 1: Introducing Culture, Consumption and Society
Defining Culture, Consumption and Society
History of Consumer Society

Part 2: Theorizing Consumption
Marx's 'Commodity Fetishism' and Veblen's 'Conspicuous Consumption'
Baudrillard's 'Beyond Use Value' and Bourdieu's 'Distinction'
McDonaldization and Disneyization

Part 3: Practices of Consumption
Consuming to Excess: Consuming Disorders and Addictions
Consuming Space: The Urban City
Consuming Youth: The Time of Tribes
Consuming Gender and the Body: Magazines and Masquerades
Consuming Celebrity: Confusing the Real and the Reel

Brief description

This module aims to introduce students to a range of sociological perspectives that seek to explore the relations between culture, consumption and society. In doing so we look at how consumerism has come to pervade so many aspects of our lives and how it influences both our sense of self and also the way we interact with others. Students will be encouraged to think critically about their own consuming habits and how they have influenced their sense of identity.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication 1. Read in different contexts and for different purposes; 2. Speak in different contexts and for different purposes (inc. presentation and discussion).
Improving own Learning and Performance
Information Technology 1. Use a range of commonly used software packages; 2. Present information and data; 3. Use e-mail/internet appropriately and effectively.
Personal Development and Career planning
Problem solving
Research skills 1. Plan and carry out research; 2. Produce academically appropriate reports.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop a greater, and more critical, appreciation of the role and power of consumption, in contemporary society.
Team work 1. Contribute effectively to the planning of group activities; 2. Play an active part in group activities.

Reading List

Essential Reading
Lee, M. (ed) (2004) The Consumer Society Reader Blackwell: Oxford Primo search Lury, C (2001) Consumer Culture Polity Press: Cambridge Primo search
Supplementary Text
Bryman, Alan (2004.) The Disneyization of society /Alan Bryman. SAGE Primo search Corrigan, Peter (1997.) The sociology of consumption :an introduction /Peter Corrigan. Sage Publications Primo search Edwards, T (2000) Contradictions of Consumption: Concepts, Practices and Politics in Consumer Society Open University Press: Buckingham Primo search Gabriel, Yiannis (2006.) The unmanageable consumer /Yiannis Gabriel and Tim Lang. 2nd ed. Sage Publications Primo search Ritzer, G. (2004) The McDonaldization of Society Revised New Centry Edition Sage: Thousand Oaks Primo search
Recommended Text
Advances in Consumer Research Primo search Culture, Markets and Consumption Primo search European journal of marketing. MCB Publications Ltd. Journal of consumer behaviour Henry Stewart Publications Journal of consumer research. University of Chicago Press. ([1985-]) Journal of marketing management. Westburn Publishers Primo search Journal of Customer Behaviour Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7