chapter  9
22 Pages

Performing Disruptive Tastes

Toward an Ontology of Reflexive Consumer Agency
WithCraig J. Thompson

Sociologically oriented consumer researchers, often building on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, have consistently analyzed consumer tastes as means through which social class distinctions, and their underlying configurations of ideological interests and socio-economic stratifications, become naturalized. Graeber presents a critical analysis of the ontology of consumption that, in the famed parlance of Lévi-Strauss, is good to think with, particularly in regard to formulating an ontology of disruptive consumer tastes. In debates between critical and functionalist orientations, proponents of the latter create a rhetorical frame in which evidence of communal bonding and creative pleasures is rendered as de facto evidence that power relations are not in play or represent processes qualitatively distinct from the operation of power. If critical and celebratory theoretical factions remain oblivious to the deeper points of convergence among their core assumptions, they will continue to oscillate between this sterile structure versus agency debate.