Consumption research revisited

Charting of the territory and introducing the handbook

Authored by: Bente Halkier , Margit Keller , Monica Truninger , Terhi-Anna Wilska

Routledge Handbook on Consumption

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138939387
eBook ISBN: 9781315675015
Adobe ISBN: 9781317380900


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In Keywords, Raymond Williams describes the historical development in the uses of the words consumer and consumption: “To consume” dates back to the fourteenth century and meant “to destroy, to use up, to waste, to exhaust” (Williams, 1987, pp. 78–79), whereas “to consume”, “consumer” and “consumption” gained the meaning of the use of market-provided goods and services from the eighteenth century onwards, alongside the development of capitalism and political economy, but also with Romanticism (Campbell, 1987). Both meanings of consumption are still with us today in so far as the understanding of consumption as part of market relations dominates popular discourse as well as research definitions. Seeing consumption as something potentially problematic is also part of the recent consumption research history and the current societal challenges to the environment, health, well-being and equality.

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