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Ephemera volume 13, number 2 - The Politics of Consumption

By Ephemera, 28 May 2013

ephemera volume 13, number 2

This age of austerity comes on the back of a lengthened period of apparently rampant consumer excess: that was a party for which we are all now having to pay. A spectacular period of unsustainably funded over-indulgence, it seems, has now given rise to a sobering period of barely fundable mere-subsistence. Consumption, narrated along such lines, is a sin which has to be paid for. Beyond the deceptive theology of consumption, however, lies actual politics. In May 2012, we hosted a conference at Dublin’s Royal Society of the Antiquaries of Ireland in order to analyse and debate the politics of consumption. This special issue is the outcome of the discussions which took place during that event. It features conceptual and empirical investigations into the politics of consumption, a head-to-head debate on the idea of consumer citizenship, a series of notes on the relationship between art, politics, and consumption, and reviews of two recent books. Taken together, these diverse pieces underline the need for a politically-oriented analysis of consumption, not only for the sake of informing academic debates but also for the sake of informing contemporary consumption practices. Consumption, we argue, is political: to approach it otherwise is to dogmatically seek refuge in a world of fantasy.


The politics of consumption Alan Bradshaw Norah Campbell Stephen Dunne


Consumption matters

Ben Fine

The dialectics of progress: Irish ‘belatedness’ and the politics of prosperity

Kate Soper

Alienated consumption, the commodification of taste and disabling professionalism

Peter Armstrong

Towards a consumerist critique of capitalism: A socialist defence of consumer culture

Matthias Zick Varul

A liquid politics? Conceptualising the politics of fair trade consumption and consumer citizenship

Eleftheria Lekakis

From politicisation to redemption through consumption: The environmental crisis and the generation of guilt in the responsible consumer as constructed by the business media

Isleide Fontenelle


The potential of consumer publics

Adam Arvidsson

Utopias of ethical economy: A response to Adam Arvidsson

Detlev Zwick

Thinking beyond neo-liberalism: A response to Detlev Zwick

Adam Arvidsson

The myth of metaphysical enclosure: A second response to Adam Arvidsson Detlev Zwick



On things and comrades

Olga Kravets

Can the object be a comrade?

Stevphen Shukaitis

Commodity as comrade: Luibov Popova – Untitled textile design on William Morris wallpaper for Historical Materialism

David Mabb

Re-appropriating Che’s image: From the revolution to the market and back again

Antigoni Memou

In praise of anti-capitalist consumption: How the V for Vendetta mask blows up Hollywood marketing

Femke Kaulingfreks and Ruud Kaulingfreks

Commodity fights in Post-2008 Athens: Zapatistas coffee, Kropotkinian drinks and Fascist rice

Andreas Chatzidakis


Irish utopian realism?

Gavin Brown and Angus Cameron

Consumption and its contradictions: Dialogues on the causes of buying

Georgios Patsiaouras