Consumption and its discontents: addiction, identity and the problems of freedom

Reith, G. (2004) Consumption and its discontents: addiction, identity and the problems of freedom. British Journal of Sociology, 55(2), pp. 283-300.

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The focus of this paper is on the notion of 'addictive consumption,' conceived as a set of discourses that are embedded within wider sociohistorical processes of governance & control. It examines the discursive convergences & conflicts between practices of consumption & notions of addiction, which it notes are consistently represented in terms of the oppositional categories of self-control vs compulsion & freedom vs determinism. These interrelations are explored with reference to the development of notions of addiction, & their relation to shifting configurations of identity, subjectivity, & governance. Finally, it suggests that the notion of addiction has particular valence in advanced liberal societies, where an unprecedented emphasis on the values of freedom, autonomy, & choice not only encourage the conditions for its proliferation into ever-wider areas of social life, but also reveal deep tensions within the ideology of consumerism itself.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Addiction, Consumerism, Consumption, Cultural Values, Determinism, Freedom, Self Control, Governance, Identity
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Reith, Professor Gerda
Authors: Reith, G.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:British Journal of Sociology

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