chapter
18 Pages

Introduction

WithSteve Hall, Tereza Kuldova, Mark Horsley

Our everyday lives are shaped and framed by consumer culture, by the relentless manufacturing of consumer desire, and by the human and environmental destruction, emptiness and meaninglessness to which consumerism inevitably leads. In the neoliberal era the entirety of the global economy is structured in relation to private debt, which has altered sectoral balances, expanding this debt and the consumption of symbolic goods as public expenditure has diminished. Consumerism is not simply about occasionally buying a few material goods that we want but do not need. It also involves the ritualised act of discarding consumer items that have lost their allure and attempting to humiliate those who own them, only to begin the process all over again as new products enter the market. Consumerism cannot be understood without a clear understanding of the functions of lack, desire and dissatisfaction in the neoliberal economy. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.