Consumption, Culture, and Identity
MCC-UE 1409
Monday/Wednesday 2:00-3:15 pm
194 Mercer rm. 206

Professor Portwood-Stacer
lps2 [at] nyu [dot] edu
Office: 239 Greene St., room 742
Office hours: M 11am-12pm; W 11am-12pm, 3:30pm-4:30pm; Thursdays by appointment

Course Description

This seminar offers students the opportunity to engage with theories of communication and culture through the context of consumption and contemporary consumer society. Our focus will be on the role of commodities and consumer practices in everyday life and in culture at large. We will give particular attention to consumption’s role in the construction of social and cultural identities. In the concluding weeks of the course, we will consider critical responses to consumer culture, including the resistance and refusal of consumption as well as the attempted mobilization of consumption toward social change. Upon completion of the course, students will be well equipped to critically evaluate messages about consumption as well as to thoughtfully participate in social, political, and economic discourses of consumption as they move into careers in the communication field.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the role of consumption practices in the construction and communication of personal and social identities
  • Understand consumption within historical trends and economic and cultural systems
  • Understand neoliberalism as an ideological, political, and economic context for consumption
  • Understand branding, brand cultures, and brand identities as a phenomenon of neoliberal consumer culture
  • Recognize and critique representations and ideologies of consumer culture within popular media (such as YouTube, social network sites, magazines, and television programs)
  • Engagingly and competently communicate understanding of course concepts in writing and through visual formats (such as photography and video)
  • Synthesize course concepts and apply them to observed examples in popular culture