Consumption and lifestyle: Introduction to an interdisciplinary field of study
Economics, psychology, business administration, and sociology are just a small selection of the many disciplines that are concerned with “consumption and lifestyle”. Two sociologists, Dieter Bögenhold and Farah Naz, have established that despite rising consumption, the volume of scientific insights concerning the phenomenon is not expanding, but appears increasingly fragmented instead. In response to this realisation, they have created an interdisciplinary „brief introduction“ to „consumption and lifestyle“, which serves to offer an overview of the knowledge spread across different disciplines.
“In economics, consumption is closely related to processes of demand while sociology investigates the symbolic expression of acts of consumption and relates those observations to classes and lifestyles”, Dieter Bögenhold (Department of Sociology at the University of Klagenfurt) states in the publication’s introductory chapter. Together with Farah Naz, who teaches and researches at the University of Sargodha in Pakistan, he has recently presented a volume that aims to offer different scientific perspectives on the topic of „consumption and lifestyle“.
Consumption, as the two authors expound, is predestined to tell us something about changing societies with different histories, markets, and cultures. “Consumption does not merely represent a series of processes such as product selection, purchase, utilisation, repair, and disposal. Rather, it also illustrates the legitimacy of products and of their markets”, Bögenhold goes on to explain. Moral barriers, for instance, become apparent when one considers the availability of weapons or drugs on various markets However, fascinating scientific insights do not only arise from the products and services provided by the market, but can also be won from our consumption dreams and saving goals.. What is of particular interest to sociology here is that consumption is always a form of expressing the social position of the consumer.
Over the past twenty years, as Bögenhold and Naz articulate in the introduction to their anthology, the world of consumption has been shaped by decisive changes: In the course of digitalisation, electronic online markets have replaced fragmented local trading centres, or have significantly rearranged their position. What is more, the role of consumers is no longer seen as consistently passive. “The so-called prosumers, who are simultaneously consumers and entrepreneurial producers, are causing the defined roles to become blurred”, Bögenhold concludes. A further noteworthy trend is the increasing importance of environmental sustainability, which is giving shape to new consumer awareness in many areas.
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dieter Bögenhold
+43 463 2700 3401
Bögenhold, D. & Naz, F. (2018). Consumption and Life-Styles. A Short Introduction. London: palgrave macmillan.