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Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture (390-0-32)


Sociology of Consumption


Andres Rodriguez Caceres

Meeting Info

University Hall 412: Tues, Thurs 2:00PM - 3:20PM

Overview of class

Topic: Sociology of Consumption

Why do we buy what we buy? Why do Americans live in big houses filled with stuff while Germans live in austere apartments? What does having a consumption-based economy mean for welfare, debt, and production? In this class we will explore different explanations for consumption patterns. After an exploration of different definitions of consumption, we will look into the topics of conspicuous consumption, consumption as meaning-making, and the implications of consumption in the political economy. We will finish by exploring the implications of consumption in our wider lives, inequality, and the environment.

Learning Objectives

1. To be familiar with leading and classical explanations for consumption, and be able to apply them to their own lives and contexts.
2. To cross-pollinate literature from different subfields (cultural sociology, economic sociology, Consumer culture theory, etc) to form novel arguments and theories.
3. To enforce students abilities to critically evaluate academic literature and empirical evidence.

Teaching Method

The class will be consist of short lectures followed by discussion of the week's readings.

Evaluation Method

Evaluations: Class participation: 30% Reading response memos: 25% Final paper presentation: 10% Final paper: 35%

Class Materials (Required)

All materials for this course will be made available on Canvas - no purchase necessary.