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What is lifestyle? When and how did the concept develop, and what functions does it serve in consumer culture today? How is it represented and constructed through television? How does it relate to parallel concepts like taste, style and identity? This subject frames lifestyle as the site where consumer culture and individual identity intersect, where identities are produced through our interactions with the commodities and media we consume. It approaches lifestyle as the relatively recent invention of advertising, marketing, popular media and related institutions and discourses, contextualizing it within the broader rise of modern consumer culture, in order to provide a historical framework for understanding the rise and global spread of lifestyle culture today. The subject engages key theories for understanding consumer culture and media from Marxist accounts of commodity fetishism and alienated labour to contemporary television studies and social theories of DIY-selves and reflexive individualism. On completion of this subject, students should be able to analyse the complex relations between contemporary consumer culture, lifestyle discourse, popular media and individual identity formation, and to trace the workings of these relations through selected cultural sites that may include advertisements, television programs, and Internet sites, and everyday practices like shopping.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of the subject, students should have:
- an understanding of the historical, social, and cultural dimensions of modern consumer culture;
- the ability to comprehend how modern consumer culture has produced the concept of 'lifestyle' as an amalgam of consumption, taste and individual identity;
- the ability to appreciate the complex relationships between the economic structure of late capitalism and the cultural phenomenon of 'lifestyle'; and
- familiarity with some of the major critical approaches to the study of consumer culture and be able to use these approaches in their own work.
At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:
- acquired advanced research and analytic skills;
- developed critical and ethical self-awareness;
- acquired an ability to develop and communicate effective arguments in both oral and written form; and
- acquired basic skills in media and information literacy and management.
Last updated: 21 February 2020