Essay Requirements and Guidance for Cultures of Consumption
3000 word essay (100% of assessment) – following one of the essay questions
Your essay must include a full bibliography, be referenced in accordance with APA guidelines, a PDF can be downloaded at: http://www.port.ac.uk/library/guides/filetodownload,68727,en.pdf
- Critical analysis of primary media sources and mediated consumption texts such as advertisements, lifestyle programming, and magazines.
- Engagement with a range of critical discussions and theoretical approaches to consumption practices and consumption-led identity formation.
- Discussion of the pervasiveness and significance of consumption and lifestyle media and concepts in society.
- Essay structure, clarity of argument and organisation of ideas.
- Use of broader critical studies and contexts.
- Bibliography according to APA guidelines.
To produce a successful essay, you must develop the themes of the lecture BEYOND the content and format of the lecture.
Your essay MUST be informed by a range of quality sources and theoretical perspectives.
Your essay should consider the kind of identity which is encouraged through the consumption practices endorsed by your chosen media text.
Be aware that you need to draw on a wide range of sources to support your analysis.
Include an accurate bibliography/list of references.
Essay Questions for Cultures of Consumption 2021/2022
1. Discuss how programmes about the history of consumption practices have shaped how we understand the construction of the consumer. (You may choose to focus upon a TV series such as The Paradise).
2. Reflect on how the difference spaces and places of consumption have constructed and manipulated the consumer, reinforcing the pleasures and aspirational ideals of consumption. (Guidance: you might also consider here debates about the decline of physical shopping spaces and the move to online consumption, why do people still enjoy the experience of 'going to the shops'?)
3. How have particular cultural moments, such as war-time rationing, had an impact on consumption practices of the time? (Guidance: you might also consider how 'austerity' economics/politics and/or recession intervene in buying habits/consumer identity)
4. Consider the ethics of consumption. How do narratives of 'green' and 'sustainable' consumption encourage particular kinds of consumer identity? (Guidance: you might consider here particular brands and also celebrity reinforcement of 'green' agendas)
5. Discuss the appeal of 'luxury' consumption: How do factors of class and taste inform such consumption? (Guidance: Reflect on the recent argument about Luxury and how those have had an impact on our understanding of consumption, consider Veblen's notion of 'conspicuous' consumption and Bourdieu's writings about taste).
6. How might we understand the ‘hidden’ issues of manufacturing processes and labour that lie behind our consumption choices? (Guidance: Here you might consider 'disposable'/cheap fashion and the ethical debates around 'sweatshop' style production; high profile cases of worker exploitation/poor factory conditions which have forced some brands- such as Primark- to make stronger pronouncements about their ethical commitments)
7. Analyse how consumer-targeted television programmes promote traditional modes of female and/or male identity through consumption. (You may choose, for example a particular TV cookery programme).(Guidance: you might also consider the differences between cookery programmes where male cooks identify as 'chefs', promoting professional level skills, while female cooks identify as mere cooks, feeding their families.)
8. Discuss how consumption-based programmes address the intersection of issues such as class, taste, sexuality, body image, and domesticity.
9. Discuss how programmes such as Supersize V Superskinny, and Fat Families, and You Are What You Eat, reinforce norms of bodily discipline, appetite-policing, and also contain messages about class and aspiration. (Guidance: the writing of Foucault on surveillance, and theorists like Kim Chernin and Sharlene Hesse-Biber could provide useful theories on the 'regulation' of the body evident in such 'instructional' programmes).
10. Consumer culture encourages the assembling of bought identities which are inauthentic and superficial? Discuss with reference to relevant academic theories and examples.
11. Consumer culture offers pleasurable opportunities for individual expression and self-realisation? Discuss with reference to relevant academic theories and examples.
12. Consider the ways in which the media, through lifestyle magazines and programming, contribute to disordered eating and body dismorphia. Discuss with relevant media examples, and with reference to theoretical perspectives relating to bodily regulation.
13. Consider how class, poverty and access to education inform participant choices on reality television.
14. Identities and lifestyles organised around consumption are inauthentic and superficial. Discuss with reference to the negative aspects of conspicuous consumption upon the individual and society. Use relevant theory and examples to support your answer.
15. The Covid-19 Global pandemic will have negative consequences for existing modes of consumption, and these consequences will be social, political, and economic? Discuss with reference to relevant academic theories and examples.
16. Analyse how consumer-targeted television programmes promote traditional modes of female and/or male identity through consumption. (You may choose, for example a particular TV cookery programme).
17. Discuss how consumption-based programmes address the intersection of issues such as class, taste, sexuality, body image, and domesticity.
18. Choose a form of lifestyle media (whether social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter, or more 'traditional' forms such as women's magazines, or TV) and consider the modes of embodied identity which are encouraged and discouraged. What are the consequences for society and the individual of such 'regulation' of the body? Discuss with reference to relevant academic theories and examples.
19. Fast fashion and the 'gig economy' related to consumption increase human disaffection and social and environmental problems? Discuss with reference to relevant academic theories and examples.
Additional subject questions for McDonaldization:
Apply Ritzer's McDonaldization thesis to your own chosen mode of lifestyle/identity consumption. Which of Ritzer's principles inform your example, and what are the individual and social consequences of this? Discuss with reference to relevant academic theories and examples.
(You might consider the 'Uberisation' of employment and delivery-based consumption models, you might consider the McDonaldization of dating and human relationships through 'dating' apps such as Tinder, you might consider a form of tourism and its environmental impact).
Consider the impact of McDonaldization upon a form/forms of consumption of your choosing. How are personal and social factors affected by the processes of McDonaldization relating to this form of consumption?
(You might consider the McDonaldization of Tourism and Holidays and how these are marketed at niche audiences who wish to have a 'controlled' and 'predictable' experience. You might consider the influence of 'planning' and consumption upon the wedding industry, whereby a personal/sacred occasion is, in contemporary western society, relentlessly 'drilled' into a standardised, tick-box exercise in material display and conspicuous consumption with wedding lists of gifts to allow the happy couple to 'predict' their gifts?).
Order to get the answer to this