Futureless vicissitudes: Gestural anti-consumption and the reflexively impotent (anti-)consumer
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-17, 09:36 authored by Q Hoang, J Cronin, A Skandalis
In this paper, we challenge the prevalent idea that anti-consumption functions as an ideological act of antagonism. We enlist the work of the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher to account for the reflexively impotent (anti-)consumer, a politically hollowed-out and knowingly helpless subject endemic to the futureless vicissitudes of semiocapitalist consumer culture. Drawing on netnographic data and interviews with ‘digital detoxers’, we explore how gestural – rather than transformational – anti-consumption emerges through individuals’ reflexive awareness of their political inertia, the lack of collective spirit to bring about improved conditions, and their perpetual attachment to market-based comforts and conveniences. Our analyses reveal three features that underpin the reflexively impotent (anti-)consumer’s resigned acceptance of the reigning political-ideological status quo: magical voluntarism, pragmatism and self-indulgence. In the absence of any unifying and politically-centred solidarity projects, mere gestures of resistance are undertaken towards managing personal dissatisfactions with – instead of collectively transforming – their structural conditions.
Author affiliationSchool of Business, University of Leicester
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