COLL-E 104 14280 Global Consumer Culture (Wilk) (S&H) (3 cr.)

11:15 AM – 12:05 PM TR

See Schedule of Classes for discussion section times

Does everyone in the world wear Nike and eat at McDonalds? Is the planet going to become one big shopping mall, full of people who listen to the same music and watch the same movies? Or is the world entering a period of tribalism and fundamentalism, as nations break apart and everyone scrambles for their own piece of territory? Scholars simply don’t agree. We have to look at the evidence, listen to the arguments, and try to figure out what kind of world we will be living in during the next century.

One thing is clear: consumer culture – lives built around the media, celebrities, mass-produced goods, and shopping malls – is spreading everywhere. Can the earth sustain seven billion consumers, their cars, refrigerators, and appetites? Many ecologists don’t think so. Does the spread of consumer culture mean the end of cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity, of families and communities? Would anyone want to live in a world where Indianapolis, Tokyo, Bombay, and Paris looked, sounded, and tasted the same? Social science does suggest some ways that people in different parts of the world are using to preserve their own unique heritage, knowledge, and taste.

This course will examine the evidence for the spread of global consumer culture, looking at the ways that people around the world have learned to be consumers. We will ask the tough questions about the future, about the environmental impacts of consumption, and the way our own cups of coffee and running shoes tie us together with a whole globe of other producers and consumers.