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Material Culture and Mass Consumption [Paperback]

Daniel Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 1991 063118001X 978-0631180012
Drawing on a range of examples from Western and developing cultures, this book offers a re-reading of the contemporary society as the product of both individual and collective identity and behaviour. Marxist interpretations of the expansion in the range and number of material goods have tended to view people as estranged from the objects they produce, while massive consumption reinforces the fragmented and individualistic nature of capitalism. In this book, the author develops a more positive theory of material culture, revealing the creative potential in the relationship between people and goods. He argues that rather than being oppressed by them, people redefine material objects to make them express themselves and their cultures. He shows that everyday objects reflect not only personal tastes and attributes, but also moral principles and social ideals.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Blackwell Pub (March 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 063118001X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631180012
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,582,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Objectification July 2, 2001
Provides a historical overview of "objectification" (from Hegel to Marx to Lukacs to Simmel) or what will be called "alienation" in Marxian terms. The user/ consumer is not fixed in consuming in the mode as intended by production; through an undersatnding of "objectification" the consumer begins to engage in a process whereby consumption produces an alt-identity that has the potential to escape the hegemony of dominant systems. With the introduction of this perspective the (general) negativity towards capitalist modes of production and consumption is subverted. In a weird way the supposed determinist track of "objectification" in this book subverts itself by proclaiming its own provisional status.
The next thing to read from this text will be Spivak and Bhabha.
Miller talks about the person as 'being-with-the-world', hence refusing the separation drawn between self and world and nature.
The only thing that concerns me is that it might be only through alienation/ or negative dialectics that objectification and hence a more rounded understanding of self and world that consist the 'being-with-the-world' can be achieved, which does not differ too much from Adorno's "elitism".
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