ABSTRACT

This chapter shows how an early anthropological focus on urban production has been balanced in recent years by increasing attention on urban consumption and the ways in which consumption figures in city-based leisure and lifestyles. It examines how people enjoy and consume the city, and asks how such choices reflect, and may subvert, social hierarchies. Many anthropologists have studied the role of consumption, specifically in connection to leisure, in shaping urban lifestyles and subcultures, from the inner-city dancehall scene in Kingston, Jamaica, to the middle-class coffee shop culture found from Seattle to Cairo. This chapter discusses how a focus on consumption helps us to understand urban difference and inequality as well as solidarity, and how consumerism often represents both a form of politics and a site of imaginative self-expression.