Culture of Mass Consumption
This is a comment page for two readings:
- Elizabeth Chin, “Hemmed In and Shut Out” and “Anthropologist Takes Inner-City Children on Shopping Sprees” (91-141) in Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture
- Welsch & Vivanco, chapter 13, “The Arts” (242-259)
These readings are for the Hartwick Cultural Anthropology 2016 course.
I have always been struck by Chin’s observation that “these obligations and debts were often not only sustaining and joyful but also painful, onerous, and highly charged. I sometimes suspected that the lesson imparted to children and imparted by them was at times a coercive generosity: share or else” (2001:128). Although we sometimes believe that in “traditional” societies such as Hunters and Gatherers there is an ethos of sharing, Nicolas Peterson’s Demand Sharing: Reciprocity and the Pressure for Generosity among Foragers (December 1993) describes a similar coercive generosity: “Despite the prevalence of an ethic of generosity among foragers, much sharing is by demand rather than by unsolicited giving.”