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'Democratizing' Consumerism?: coalescing constructions of subjugation in the consumer landscape

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ABSTRACT Charges of sexism and the destruction of nature in the social construction of the built environment are not new. But the notion has been sporadically forwarded that the consumer landscape represents a democratizing environment within the traditional social hierarchy premised on class, gender, and ethnicity/race. The consumer landscape is presumed to accomplish this by allowing the individual consumer the freedom to construct self-identity through the process of consumption. It is the premise of this paper that this contention is incorrect. In fact, what is of interest is the way sexism and the subjugation of nature are integrated and commodified in the consumer landscape, and why they coalesce and reinforce each other so effectively. This process can be observed in the social construction of Texas's second most visited tourist attraction located in downtown San Antonio. In the social construction of the Paseo del Rio \[River Walk] it can be seen how the presentation of gender subjugation (closely linked with nature and race) is a necessary component in the construction of a successful and socially stratified consumer landscape. Far from being democratizing, in this landscape the consumer is socialized according to traditional notions of cultural power.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1997-07-01

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