Thursday, February 02, 2006

Consuming texts

I've been reading an eclectic mix of texts recently while in the process of recruiting an organisation for my research. At the moment I'm reading "Consumption and Identity at Work" by Paul Du Gay and "Space, Place and Gender" by Doreen Massey. I've also read through an extract from Passages: Consuming Media - a long-term collective and ethnographic research project undertaken by ACSIS on a contemporary Swedish Shopping Center called Solna, just north of Stockholm.

Curiously, while both Paul Du Gay and the Solna researchers are concerned with the role of consumption, Du Gay's understanding and development of the concept makes no appearance in the Passages work. The Passages researchers are concerned with what they see as a shortcoming in media studies in the way that connected temporal phases of consumption are split off into divisions of consumption and reception.
Material Culture of the Daniel Miller variety is criticised as being preoccupied with consumption as shopping. But there is a lot of work in Material Culture that takes consumption beyond the experience of 'shopping'.

Du Gay, for example, draws on Baudrillard's notion that commodities have "identity-value" as well as "use-value" and ultimately applies this to work identity. In du Gay's words, "Practices of consumption are therefore key elements in the production of an inalienable world in which objects are firmly integrated into the development of particular social relations and group identity." Du Gay is concerned with the overlapping worlds of production and consumption since the subject of consumption operates within a system of production and neither can be thoroughly extricated. I think the
Passages text could develop their understanding and use of 'consumption' although I appreciate the attempt to introduce it more comprehensively into media studies. Then again, I only read an extract from the wopping two volumes that make up the Benjamin inspired Solna Passages project. I think I'll see if I can get a complete copy.

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