Is another blog about shopping really necessary? Definitely not. With so many great (and not so great) ones that already exist to cover fashion, buying, and trends, the challenge becomes finding an angle distinguished from those that began years ago. As an academic, I struggle with my love for consumerism, advertising, and style, as it is often in direct conflict with what I believe theoretically. Although many critical theorists were not "against" materialism, the conditions of contemporary American materialism and consumer culture are troublesome, if not entirely dysfunctional. The ubiquitous visibility of shopping (especially in media), the elevation of its status as hobby/great American pastime/sport, recent notions of its therapeutic dimensions (shop to reward, cure, solve), and the long historical connection between advertising, emotional branding, and consumer ideology, make this subject ripe for academic analysis. I hope to do some of that here. I also hope to keep myself accountable in some small way.
My infatuation with consumption disconnects directly from the socio-economic reality of being a doctoral fellow on a budget. Thankfully, I live in a city where costs of living are low. I acknowledge and try to be reflexive about the numerous privileges that my cultural and social capital afford. They enable upward mobility (both financial and other).
In this space, I grapple with my love/hate relationship with consumerism and consumer culture. I study media, advertising, and culture. I teach about media, advertising, and culture. I am writing a dissertation about media, advertising, and culture. I often feel consumed by these subjects as much as I attempt to consume them.
Consume or Consumed will track my recent purchases, purges, and future contenders for either category. I will hold myself accountable for consumer behaviors that are in conflict with my budget. I will consider what influences these behaviors. And I will examine ads, news, and fashion trends from an academic standpoint.