Politics of Consumption (POCON)

Course description

If it is true that we live in a consumer society, then we must accept that there are political implications to how we consume. We can thus encounter various different conflicting accounts of how consumption carries political implications such as how consumption fosters a spirit of materialism and selfishness that disconnects people from a more social and citizen orientated idea of community; how brands, advertising and other media become ideologically encoded according to the logic of capitalism; how the ontological status of the consumer is already delimited; how gender and sexual norms become reified but also subverted by consumer practices; how consumerism empowers but also responsibilizes people in the marketplace; how consumption pulls people into a system of financialisation and precarity; and how consumerism becomes a technology through which we are processed according to biopolitical injunctions.


This module seeks to explore and unpack many of these political issues and attempts to conceptually explore, account for and evaluate our lives as consumers. Students will be expected to generate a self-directed piece of original research and to participate in class discussion.

Intended Learning Outcomes
Intended Learning Outcomes
The aim of this course is to combine a wide range of theoretical insights from interdisciplinary studies of social sciences so to equip students with an expanded and eclectic set of insights and understandings right at the cutting edge of contemporary critical, political and marketing theory.

Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding
1. Describe various theoretical perspectives on the politics of consumption and understand the development of the field with reference to scholarly theoretical and empirical advances.
2. Be able to draw connections between intellectual and conceptual debates emanating from other subject areas but nonetheless relevant to their studies and professional practice of marketing.

Skills and abilities
3. Critically assess contemporary consumer phenomena with reference to highly complex and intellectually broad reference points.
4. To be able to draw upon a wider pool of critical reflexivity and consideration when making decisions.

Judgement and approach
5. As opposed to conceiving of marketing political practitioners as experts who are parachuted into local contexts to quickly problem-solve according to a set criteria for action that can be learnt via practical orientated case study training, this course develops a very different idea of judgment which encourages people to reflect, in the first instance, not on how to solve the problem but, instead, to ask why the problem materializes in the form it does, and at the time it does. Put simply, the purpose of this course is to encourage broader based judgment and intellectual consideration.
6. This module emphasizes a public, as opposed to private, form of awareness and strategy which keeps questions of the public democratic good central to understanding.

Please Note !

There will be no new admissions to this course.

Course title:
Politics of Consumption
Semester: Spring term 2018
Study period: 3 4
Rate of studies: 50%
Level: Graduate level (second cycle)
Credits: 7.5
Language of instruction: English


Course coordinator:
Helena Flinck
Head of course:
Carl Yngfalk


Yngfalk Carl
Anna Yngfalk Karlstad universitet
Docent Markus Fellesson Karlstad Universitet