SOAN 291 - Special Topics in Anthropology
A discussion of a series of topics of anthropological concern. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.
Fall 2019, SOAN 291A-01: Topic in Anthropology: Consumer Cultures (3). No prerequisites. Appropriate for all class years. "It is extraordinary to discover that no one knows why people want goods," or so observed a famous pair of authors -- one an anthropologist, the other an economist -- in 1979. What, since then, have anthropology and interrelated disciplines learned about consumer desire? This course considers human interaction with the material world in a variety of cultures, periods, and scales. From socio-cultural and political perspectives, what do consumers hope to accomplish by buying, patronizing, or using products like Barbies, bottled water, French fries, blue jeans, tattoos, and piercings? How does consumerism facilitate claims to social connection, personal identity, and meaning? How do potentially constructive roles of buying "stuff" relate to debt, environmental over-exploitation, hoarding, and the Marie Kondo phenomenon? Bell.
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