chapter  4
22 Pages

Chapter 4Desires, identity and consumption

Western capitalist social formations contain a majority of people, between two-thirds to

three-quarters of the population, who can afford to buy consumer goods and experiences

in non-recessionary years and who increasingly are hooked into the culture of

consumerism. This means that many people continue to desire to be purchasers,

consumers, even when they cannot afford to buy all the things and pleasurable

experiences which they might wish as a consequence of seeing what is on offer in

advertisements, and in television programmes more generally. In order to develop the

analysis of desires, and how they are linked to the social, cultural and psychological

construction and maintenance of a sense of various kinds of identity, some additional

concepts will be examined in this chapter. In particular, the concept of desire, which can

be located in the theoretical discourse of psychoanalysis, and that of identity as this has

emerged in some kinds of recent sociological writings, will be explored.