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The Cynic’s Guide to Shopping for Morals. On the commodification of morality in consumer culture

O'Neill, Carly (2018) The Cynic’s Guide to Shopping for Morals. On the commodification of morality in consumer culture. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis questions the idea that morality is only part of consumer culture in explicitly ethical consumption, and instead argues that morality is shaped in several layers throughout consumer culture. This thesis examines these layers by considering the question: How is morality shaped and perpetuated both explicitly and implicitly in consumer culture? It has found that consumer culture is not post-ideological but that in it, ideology and morality are obscured by a cynical disconnection between belief and action ,which is used by both consumers and producers. By disconnecting what people ‘know and believe’ from what they ‘do’, it becomes harder to recognise where ideology and morality affect consumer culture, because they are denied their role while they fulfil it. Ideology and morality are obscured further by a second disconnection within this first one; between what people ‘know’ and what they ‘believe’. The tension this disconnection causes is addressed through myth, which adds and hides ideology and morality in consumer culture by naturalising ideology and morality in advertising. This shows that there is more to consumption than the satisfaction of needs, and there is more to the concept of needs in consumer culture than their practical satisfaction. Consumer culture is a complex sphere where good and bad co-exist, and consumers are active co-creators of ideology and morality. Their contributions however, are made within limits set by dominant voices in consumer culture, perpetuating an inequality of power in consumer culture. This thesis shows that when consumer culture is looked at as a complex social sphere, it becomes clear that atonement is an important part of consumer culture, not just in explicitly ethical consumption but in consumer culture in general, and that consumer culture is a sphere where morality is taught and learned.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Consumer culture, morality, consumption, ethical consumption, myth, ideology, happiness
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Media and Communication (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Carly O'Neill
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2018 11:07
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2018 11:07
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22296

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