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Anthropology - Miller & Consumption

In: Social Issues

Submitted By browningem
Words 424
Pages 2
Emily Browning
Anthropology
March 20, 2014

I felt as though Miller was writing about the evolution of his theory of consumption, rather than delving deep into his own thoughts. I would have liked to read more about his idea of consumption as synonymous with the abolition of poverty. As soon as he would get started with one of his ideas, he would quickly use examples of old theories to show the development of his own.
The idea of consumption as a means to ending poverty is one I had not really considered. As pointed out many are often concerned with how consumption stratifies society into hierarchies. I am guilty of viewing consumption in this way. It is easy to look at consumption as a negative practice due to the materialism of buying objects for status rather than necessity. Mass production often leads to mass consumption, but in doing so also allows impoverished individuals to participate in capitalism. With this possibility comes the question; does this lead to a loss of individualism? With consumption as a founding principle for the creation of social spheres, appropriation of goods gives way to individuality. An example used was the use of a motorcycle to represent a rocker.
I am having a tough time grasping this idea. Does mass consumption allow individualism or hinder it? In creating social spheres through the appropriation of goods, there are certain obligations people set upon themselves in order to find their places in society. Consumption is often seen as a means to higher status. By purchasing items to fit into a standard, do people lose the ability to express themselves as individuals in contrast to a group? Do impoverished individuals have more claims to their individuality due to their inability to select their class? My questions are running in circles making it hard to distinguish whether or not they contradict each other. While having fewer…...

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