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MSc Environmental Governance

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Sociology of Consumption

Unit code SOCY60552
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Students will survey the emergence and development of a new sub-discipline within sociology, the sociology of consumption. The course will involve examining key theoretical texts and recent research in the field.

The course will cover the following topics:
* A definition and mapping of the field of consumption studies
* themes in the sociology of consumption
* The Frankfurt School and the culture industries
* Pierre Bourdieu's analysis of distinction
* consumption, welfare and well-being
*cultural studies and the meaning of signs
* material culture and the meaning of goods
* an interim review of the field
*revival of political economy of consumption
*recent developments in the cultural sociology of consumption


To provide a module of study which furthers to the aims of the MA programme.
To cultivate a capacity for critical thinking at an advanced level.
To introduce students to a rapidly developing field of study which has relevance to contemporary social and economic life.
To offer a thorough overview of developments in the sociology of consumption and encourage a critical attitude towards theoretical and empirical work in the field.

Learning outcomes

* to impart an understanding of the development of the sub-discipline.
* to foster a capacity for critical evaluation of key theoretical texts and recent empirical research.
* to identify the strengths and weaknesses of current work in the field.
* to encourage a capacity to write analytically about topics in the field.

Teaching and learning methods

weekly lecture

Assessment methods

Students are required to write a 3,000 word assessed essay related to one of the module topics

Recommended reading

Aldridge A (2004) Consumption, Polity
Lury, C (1996) Consumer Culture, Polity
Gabriel Y & Lang T (1995) The Unmanageable Consumer, Sage
Slater, D (1997) Consumer Culture and Modernity, Polity
Miller, D. ed (1995) Acknowledging Consumption: a review of new studies, Routledge

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Luke Yates Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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