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Culture, Consumption and Branding

  • Module code: SO6023
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 6
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Succesful completion of Level 5 Sociology, Criminology or equivalent
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module will explore various sociological theories of consumer society. It will examine consumption within national and international context and will look at the development of consumerism throughout the twentieth century to the present day with a particular focus on the escalation of global ‘branding'. A range of approaches will be employed to study and understand consumption within a political, cultural and historical setting.  Students will also consider key cultural, social and political processes involved in consumer behaviours and practice and contemporary sociological debates of commodification, commercialisation, capitalism and globalisation. The module also examines deviant and sometimes criminal consumer practices such as looting, shopping ‘addiction' and international trading laws.

Aims

  • To explore and evaluate various theories of consumption at a national and international level.
  • To deploy a range of approaches to the study and understanding of consumption within a political, cultural and historical setting. 
  • To critically examine key cultural, social and political processes involved in consumer behaviour and practice.
  • To consider and evaluate contemporary sociological debates concerning commodification, commercialisation, capitalism and globalisation.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of sociological and cultural theory concerned with consumption.
  • Applying sociological and cultural theories of consumption to "real" examples from contemporary consumer society.
  • Analyse and discuss the complex relationships between consumption and society

Curriculum content

  • The ‘pleasures' of consumption.
  • Theories of 'risky' consumption including ‘dangerous' and ‘addictive' consumption.
  • Globalization, ‘ethical' and ‘moral' consumption as means of popular protest against global consumption.
  • The historical and political contexts of consumption
  • The future of consumer society
  • Consumption in communist societies.
  • Lifestyles
  • Fashion
  • Urbanism
  • Domestic spaces of consumption
  • Subversive, subcultural consumption

Teaching and learning strategy

This module is taught by a series of lectures and seminars.  Lectures will be given to introduce topics and guide students in directed reading in preparation for seminar discussion sessions. Seminars offer a forum for students to clarify and assimilate their learning through discussion and class exercises.  Seminars will provide a context in which students can received feed forward comment in preparation for their assessment. 

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching 22 hours lectures 22
Scheduled learning and teaching 22 hours seminars 22
Guided independent study Reading and research 256
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

This module will be summatively assessed by a 3,000 word essay and a 15 minute group presentation.  The essay will test knowledge and critical understanding of the topic area. The oral group presentation tests students' ability to apply theories to a personalised case study and offers a forum to discuss ideas with peers.  Class feedback from the presentation will contribute to students' understanding and can be utilised in the preparation of the essay.  Students will have the opportunity for formative feed forward comment on their essay through peer evaluation of an essay plan.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of sociological and cultural theory concerned with consumption. Essay plan (formative) Group presentation (summative) Essay (summative)
Applying sociological and cultural theories of consumption to 'real' examples from contemporary consumer society. Essay plan (formative) Group presentation (summative) Essay (summative)
Analyse and discuss the complex relationships between consumption and society. Essay plan (formative) Group presentation (summative) Essay (summative)

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK 3000 word essay 80
PRC 15 minute group presentation 20
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Clarke, D.B., Doel, M.A and Housiaux, K. M. L. (eds.) (2003) The Consumption Reader Routledge: London

Bibliography recommended reading

Bauman, Z. (2007) Consuming Life Cambridge: Polity

Bourdieu, P. (1979) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste London: Routledge

Campbell, C. (1987) The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism Oxford: Blackwell

Carsten, J. (1997) The Heat of the Hearth: The Process of Kinship in a Malay Fishing Community. Oxford: Clarendon Press

Casey, E. and Martens, L. (2007) Gender and Consumption. London: Ashgate

Casey, E. and Taylor, Y. (2015) Intimacies, Critical Consumption and Diverse Economies London: Palgrave

Falk, P. and Campbell, C. (1997) The Shopping Experience London: Sage

Featherstone, M. (1991) Consumer Culture and Postmodernism.  London:  Sage

Gronow, J. and Warde, A. (eds.) (2001) Ordinary Consumption London: Routledge

Lury, C. (1996) Consuming Cultures, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Mauss, M. (1992) The Gift London: Routledge

Miller, D. (1998) A Theory of Shopping. Cambridge:  Polity Press

Moor, L. (2007) The Rise of the Brands London: Berg

Ritzer,G. (2005) Enchanting a Disenchanted World Pine Forge Press: London

Slater, D. (1997) Consumer Culture and Modernity Cambridge: Polity Press.

Thomas, N. (1991) Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture and Colonialism in the Pacific Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Woodward, S. (2007) Why Women Wear What they Wear Oxford: Berg

 

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