Skip to main content

The community of things

Buy Article:

$26.27 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Shopping is a collective act. Most of the time it is done in groups, in families or with friends. Much of our consumption is either done with other people or for other people. In the high street, teenagers shop in groups, buying the same clothes and music their peers do. In our often solitary trips to the supermarket, we buy for our families. Consumption is driven by a sense of what we need to keep our collective lives together. Sometimes we shop to give to others to strengthen social bonds. At other times, we buy the same things as our friends to gives us status amongst our peers. An understanding of the social life of things is missing from contemporary debates about consumption. In their effort to reformulate progressive politics, many on the left have called for the creation of a 'post-consumer society' in which more noble values than shopping lie at the centre of British life. Consumerism is criticised as a debilitating condition that destroys the sources of solidarity and common life. The critique in each case is that consumption is driven by a selfish desire to infinitely accumulate. This article argues that this assumption is false.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 15, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Soundings pioneers thoughtful, critical ideas on culture, society and politics. That's why leading left thinkers from Britain, Latin America, Asia, the United States and Europe debate their ideas in our pages.

    'Deeply thoughtful about the public life of politics and the intimacy of our private lives and how they interconnect. Soundings is one of the few places where you read ideas which can change your mind.' Madeleine Bunting
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more