As we continue to delve deeper into the study of consumer culture, we’re in a constant struggle with questions regarding control and power. Relentlessly we question if  the consumers, are the ones creating the demand, or if it truly is the profit-driven corporations (the producers) forcing the demand?

jk319 in his blog post, Advertising Used As A Tool To Foster Commodity Fetishism, points out that “it would be a mistake to hold that consumption is simply ‘pushed’ on people”, highlighting  the active faculty of the consumer (Storper, 105). jk319 nonetheless also illuminated that advertising is principally a powerful tool used by producers to elevate and perpetuate consumption, revealing the two, conflicting sides of the coin.

This dispute, surrounding contemporary capitalism, will perhaps be an eternal one, so I believe it is presently more fundamental for us to refocus our attention on the significance of “prosumption”. As Lury states, prosumption “involves both production and consumption” and has recently gained immense traction evident in the growing world of user generated web (Lury, 102).

Prosumption, first and foremost, is blurring the lines of consumption by transforming consumers into producers, raising tensions that Web 2.0 is essentially defined by. Etsy, an online marketplace, is my favorite case study as it disrupts the world of commerce by providing consumers a platform to also become producers. Many businesses, much like Etsy, are certainly empowering consumers all over the world, but what are the effects or results of this increasing prosumption on milennials (my generation)?

As mentioned before, there is a new wave of consumer empowerment that I believe has transformed into a sense of entitlement for the millennial generation. Milennials arguably see these new opportunities as a challenge to take their fate into their own hands and establish themselves as entrepreneurs and their own bosses. The recent plethora of tech startups, bloggers, YouTube sensations, etc. can certainly be seen as a direct result and evidence of prosumption growth. Moreover and essentially, the potential to disrupt diverse industries (like education) that are deemed valuable and noble causes by milennials, make prosumption a far more attractive endeavor. (For example, Codeacademy is a community where teachers are not only producers of lessons but also consumers most importantly, it’s free.)

Ultimately, this ability to stand up against the producer and disrupt an empire provides insight into understanding the role of free labor that we discussed in class. When sharing or producing content on Facebook, YouTube, or Yelp, milennials are certainly providing free labor but labor they believe is empowering them with control and faculty. The industries and producers of consumer culture are weakened as consumers gain new control and authority in their identity as producers, transforming free labor into becoming far more meaningful.

Finally, as I end this exploration of prosumption, I am left with this question: Is this ultimately, just a power struggle?

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