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By Kaj Illomen

Kaj Ilmonen was once a pioneer within the 3rd wave of the sociology of intake. This book provides a balanced assessment of the sociology of intake, arguing that the passion of 'the 3rd wave' exaggerated the position of the symbolic and imaginary on the fee of the materiality of human societies.

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Extra info for A Social and Economic Theory of Consumption

Sample text

Their exchange involved various ceremonies and magical rites that had nothing at all to do with the promotion of self-interest. The same can be said of all other ‘economic’ activities among the islanders, including the growing of their staple agricultural produce, yam. Most of the harvest, Malinowski says, did not go to the farmer, but to the members of the farmer’s extended family. ) must be exploded, once and forever’. The Trobrianders were engaging not in an exercise in economy but in the maintenance of social relations (see Graeber 2001).

One integral aspect of this is that employees are forced to comply with new business strategies and human resource policies at the same time as management in major companies seek relative freedom in their decision-making with a view to maximizing the interests of company owners or directors. Hayek and Friedman do not consider this lack of freedom a problem, since they maintain that employees can always change jobs if they want to. Thirdly, there is the freedom to promote common interests within a community, or the ‘republican’ right to apply the collective political resources at one’s disposal to pursue and promote what one believes is right (Ilmonen & Jokinen 2002, 138).

Consumption has a symbolic side, in which the Aristotelian formal and final reasons are most clearly in evidence. This symbolic side is of particular interest to anthropology, sociology, aesthetics and semiotics. As soon as consumers have purchased a commodity in the marketplace, its symbolic and technical/functional side begin to deteriorate, even when the commodity is not in active use. The commodity gradually loses its use value and moves outside the realm of consumption. But before that, the commodity has served a purpose.

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