chapter  8
Pages 20

Recent explorations of popular consumption-and I’m thinking in particular of studies developed from work in the early 1970s on youth cultures2-have attempted the kind of rapprochement with consumption urged by Erica Carter, above. An interest in what patterns of consumption can reveal about popular experiences, pleasures and desires has come out of a more nuanced theorizing of the popular market-place, in which the languages of consumerism-as well as regulating and shaping-are seen to have to produce some resonance with popular aspirations and desires.3 Informed by developments in theories of subjectivity, discourse and ideology, these recent writings have also considered popular consumption as a crucial set of sites and practices through which identities are produced, circulated and contested. Ros Coward’s Female Desire,4 to take one example, follows such a course in tracing the incitement and organization, together with some of the contradictions, of femininity and female desire. A reassessment of pleasure and a concern with the body also comes out of these writings; and one could map a number of injunctions which under-pin the move towards a proper engagement in the networks of popular pleasures: strands within feminism, gay politics, and the writings of Barthes, Deleuze and Guattari, and Foucault come to mind.5 Such interventions represent an attempt to go beyond moralistic dismissals of the ‘degraded pleasures and commodified desires’6 of a left cultural pessimism.7 In a British left

context this has meant challenging the moral languages established at the turn of the century between evangelical religion and the labour movement.8