For as long as we live, we are consumers, or rather, “prosumers” of this world; from the simplest and most basic consumption of oxygen which leads to the production of carbon dioxide to fulfill biological needs, to cultural consumption in which we attach meanings to set the context for the identity of self and of others. Everything carries cultural meaning in consumer culture, and it is through the exchange of meaning that we build social relationships and acquire reflexivity to identity. Therefore, as Canclini notes in Identities as a Multimedia Spectacle, identity is coproduced as it moves through “production, communication and cultural appropriation” (95).

To consume is to assimilate through appropriation; to take something away yet to add something else, contributing to the good (appropriation) and the system (assimilation) through utilization.

“Our society is characterized by a cancerous growth of vision, measuring everything by its ability to show or be shown and transmuting communication into a visual journey. It is a sort of epic of the eye and of the impulse to read,” Certeau writes, “For the binary set production-consumption, one would substitute its more general equivalent: writing-reading” (xxi). Writing this blog post now, I am an active participant in the culture system; by producing a piece of writing upon consuming others’ words, I too am a “prosumer” in this “silent production.”

“This production is also an “invention” of the memory. Words become the outlet or product of silent histories. The readable transforms itself into the memorable” (Certeau, xxi). By writing this response, I am appropriating the information consumed, this is my personalization of the text, now giving the public a piece what I took away from it. As I exemplify with this blog post, appropriation can be through rituals of personalization. So how does appropriation fit into our lives? Celia Lury writes in Consumer Culture, “positive appropriation of goods by the pluralistic, small-scale communities …make up the population of contemporary society” (24), while De Certeau addresses in Practice of Everyday Life, “Everyday life invents itself by poaching in countless ways on the property of others” (xii).

Furthermore, through appropriation, consumers attain power in consumer culture and affect the cycle in which the appointed “weak” can make use of the “strong.” Through appropriation, consumers can alter the intended meaning by producers and reverse the direction of control. To me, there is no particular weak nor strong; instead, I believe there is a balance in weight between consumers and producers in the culture system because of appropriation. It is like asking “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” The egg was in the chicken that was in the egg; appropriation is rebirth.

Rather than what jk3169 writes that we feed off of the capitalistic way of life, ending his/her post more from an economic standpoint, I believe we feed off of one another in the compromise and control of meaning; that the consumer and producer are complementary. Thus, I disagree with jk3169  that we are “drowning” in consumer culture; we are surely surfing the waves.


-Jennifer W.