Consumers and Consumption

Sharon Zukin and Jennifer Smith Maguire

Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2004. 30:173–97
doi: 10.1146/annurev.soc.30.012703.110553
Copyright c_ 2004 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. First published online as a Review in Advance on February 18, 2004


Consumption is a social, cultural, and economic process of choosing goods, and this process reflects the opportunities and constraints of modernity.Viewing consumption as an “institutional field,” the review suggests how consumption bridges economic and cultural institutions, large-scale changes in social structure, and discourses
of the self. Newtechnologies, ideologies, and delivery systems create consumption spaces in an institutional framework shaped by key social groups, while individual men andwomen experience consumption as a project of forming, and expressing, identity. Studying the institutional field requires research on consumer products, industries, and sites; on the role of consumption in constructing both the consuming subject and collective identity; and on historical transitions to a consumer society. Ethnography, interviews, and historical analysis show a global consumer culture fostered by media and marketing professionals yet subject to different local interpretations.

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