RN5 - Sociology of Consumption

The Consumption research network has been active in the European Sociological Association since the early 1990s, and has drawn in scholars from across Europe for discussion at the cutting edge of social and cultural debate on consumption. Meetings of the group typically deal with a broad range of theoretical, methodological and empirical issues in the sociology of consumption.

For more information on the group, please visit our website: www.esa-consumption.org

Network Coordinators

Margit Keller
Institute of Journalism and Communication
University of Tartu, Estonia
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Terhi-Anna Wilska
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
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Board members:
Monica Truniger
University of Lisbon, Portugal

Michael Egerer,
University of Helsinki, Finland

Irmak Karademir Hazir,
University of Manchester, UK
Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Click here to read the biennial report 2011-2013 of RN5

Click here to read the biennial report 2009-2011 of RN5


European Sociological Association 11th Conference

TORINO, 28-31 August 2013

Call for Papers


Authors are invited to submit their abstract either to the general session (open) or any specific session. Please submit each abstract only to one session. After abstract evaluation, coordinators will have the chance to transfer papers between sessions where applicable.

Abstracts should not exceed 1750 characters (including spaces, approximately 250 words). Each paper session will have the duration of 1.5 hours. Normally sessions will include 4 papers.

Abstracts can only be submitted online no later than 1st of February 2013 to the submission platform at: www.esa11thconference.eu. Abstracts sent by email cannot be accepted.

The information requested during abstract submission include: 1) name(s), affiliation(s) and email of all the author(s); 2) contact details of presenting author (postal address, and telephone in addition to email); 3) title of proposed presentation; 4) up to 4 keywords (optional).

Submitting authors will receive an email of acknowledgement of successful submission receipt. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed and selected for presentation by the relevant Research Network or Research Stream; the letter of notification will be sent by the conference software system in early April 2013. Each author cannot submit more than two abstracts (as first author).

Abstract submission deadline: 1st February 2013

Abstract submission platform: http://www.esa11thconference.eu

If you have further questions on the conference, please visit the conference website.

For information on the Research Networks, visit: http://www.europeansociology.org/

RN05 - Sociology of Consumption

Coordinator: Margit Keller < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >

University of Tartu, Estonia

Do we face a fundamental crisis of the consumer society? Potentials for critique and change

Since 2008 we have a global crisis of the economy, mainly driven by mad money markets. The amount of unemployed people increased almost everywhere. Whole states like Greece, Spain, Portugal have serious problems to refinance their welfare systems. Apparently this crisis is multi-faceted. It is not just a debt crisis, but also a political and a social crisis. But do we have also a serious crisis of the consumer society? Does this affect our way of consuming or even our perspective on consumption in a sustainable, substantial manner? Or isn’t it just the opposite, that the consumer society is the only stable factor in these turbulent times (both as a result of widening social inequalities where available income increases for some social groups and of the emergence of the ‘new middle classes’ in countries such as Brazil, Russia or China)?

Our consumption patterns are pushed and pulled in multiple directions as a consequence of change instigated by a wide array of factors, ranging from the economic downturn, the hypertrophy of the welfare state or the climate crisis. These changes raise questions regarding a required reconfiguration of social processes and conditions of consumption, the balance between the social dynamics of consumer cultures and the reproduction of social relations and, last but not least, the reaction of consumers and other stakeholders to possible future scenarios of consumer society. Inspired from the theme of the conference our particular focus lies on a bifurcation: shall we continue as usual or change our consumer society? Do we have enough trust in the agents of consumption (marketers, consumers, politicians, NGOs) to do the right thing? Beyond that we seek to shed a fresh light on potentials of critique within the sociology of consumption, from multiple theoretical and empirical traditions, both for interpreting and affecting changes, in line with the ESA general conference call for 2013.

Our Research Network invites papers that deal with the above and other various aspects of the sociology of consumption.

Possible themes include but are not limited to:

01RN05.          Food and consumption

02RN05.          Ethical and political consumption

03RN05.          Spaces of urban and excess consumption

04RN05.          Consumption inequalities and exclusions

05RN05.          Sustainable consumption

06RN05.          Material culture

07RN05.          Sociology of taste

08RN05.          Markets of consumption

09RN05.          Cultural stratification

10RN05.          Arts participation

11RN05.          Consumption and the body

12RN05.          Problematic forms of consumption

13RN05.          Theories of consumption

14RN05.          Gender and consumption

15RN05.          Children and young people’s consumer culture

16RN05.          Structural and institutional conditions of consumption

17RN05.          Living with and consuming animals and other nature

18RN05.          Sociology of Consumption (open)

19RN05.          PhD sessions: 1-2 special sessions will be dedicated to PhD students' papers. Discussants will be provided for those sessions.

If you wish your paper to be considered for the PhD session(s), please submit the abstract to session 19RN05.


05JS13.            RN05 Joint session with RN13 Sociology of families and intimate lives

Family, consumption and markets

(Chairs: Bente Halkier & tbc, see RN web-page)

This joint session explores the relationships between families, intimate relationships, consumption and markets. Papers, which address these themes in relation to life course, generations and genders are welcome. We are also interested in papers that reflect upon the ways in which "crisis" (in the broad sense and enveloping economic, social, familial, markets ...) comes into focus. How is this connected with "critique" (e.g. through resistance in/through consumption) and change?

For an extended CfP for this session see http://www.esa-consumption.org

05JS28.            RN5 Joint session with RN28 Society and Sports

The Commercialization of Sport and Fitness

(Chairs: Roberta Sassatelli  & Fabio Lo Verde)

Understood as a suggestive manifestation of consumer culture, the fitness boom is larger than fitness activities and has tapped into sport in innovative ways. The mixing of physical, sportive activities and popular culture has been envisioned through extreme rhetorical cliché, either celebration or comdenation. This often corresponds to disciplinary specialisations: physical education and medical practice have typically played the celebratory tune in contrast to sociology, history and gender studies. This session aims at going beyond such readings to take a proper sociological look at the sport, fitness and physical activities practices which are organized through commercial institutions and relations (of various sorts).

Marrying the sociology of sport and leisure with the sociology of consumption, the session will address critical questions such as: which institutional settings favour participation in sport and fitness activities? What are the advantages and shortcomings of commercial provision vis a vis public provision in the case of physical activities? Which kinds of relations are favoured in commercial fitness premises? Which values are promoted through sport and fitness practices as organized by commercial premises? How do trainers and trainees perceive and cope with commercialism? Which varieties of commercial relations can we discover in the field of fitness and sport activities, how do they differ and how do they compare with other commercial services? How does differentiation within the field respond to social boundaries (gender, class, ethnicity) without it? To what extent the “law of the market” explains the cultural dynamic in the fitness and sport activities? Papers should ideally address key relevant theoretical issues through empirical research.

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