A follow-up to Grant McCracken’s groundbreaking Culture and Consumption, this new book trades the usual platitudes about the consumer society for a more detailed, exacting anthropological treatment. Each section of the book pairs a brief essay with an academic article. The essay is designed for a quick, provocative glimpse of the topic; the article provides a deeper anthropological treatment. The book opens with a broadside against the now thoroughly conventionalized attack on the consumer culture. Essays follow on homes, cars, people, and social mobility; celebrities, consumerism, and self-invention; museums and the power of objects; the anthropology of advertising; and marketing, meaning management, and value. Like McCracken’s previous volume, this new book is an engaging, informative, and eye-opening foray into modern consumer culture.
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Grant McCracken is a member of The MIT Laboratory for Branding Cultures and a visiting scholar at McGill University and author of several books, including Culture and Consumption (IUP, 1988), Big Hair, and Transformation.Review:
"Freakonomics, meet brandthropology. In this concise volume (a companion to his watershed 1998 effort) of articulate introspection and insightful ethnographic essays, the author exhorts anthropologists to take back their culture.... Culture and Consumption II is well suited for adoption as a supplementary text at any level in courses dealing with material culture or museology." ―Museum Anthropology Review
Suburban living rooms, 1950s tail fins, and Hollywood celebrities: in such examples of popular and material culture, McCracken (cultural anthropologist, author of Culture and Consumption, CH, Jul'88) finds provocative evidence for what North Americans value. This highly readable volume pairs informal essays with scholarly articles, all providing rich anthropological perspectives on the material elements of everyday life and how people build their identities, experiences, and relationships through them. People turn houses into homes by sheltering themselves with concentric rings of intimacy made of meaningful objects. They select and reject from marketplace offerings according to their notions of self and family. McCracken's meaning management concept usefully explores how advertisers, marketers, and celebrity endorsers compete as meaning makers who capture cultural meanings and attach them to products. His heated attacks on elitist critiques of consumer culture are lively but dated; half the chapters are reprinted, three from the 1980s. Few scholars still disdain popular and material culture as McCracken's targets once did. However, many do challenge assertions like his that the world of goods has become successfully democratized. Nonetheless, this collection of insights and arguments will serve general audiences, marketers, and students looking for fruitful ways of assessing consumer culture. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; students, lower―division undergraduate and up; and professionals.P. W. Laird, University of Colorado at Denver, Choice, February 2006
"... [McCracken's] freshness is as inspired and uplifting as it is novel. Culture and Consumption II is a wonderful read." ―Journal of Advertising Research
"This highly readable volume pairs informal essays with scholarly articles, all providing rich anthropological perspectives on the material elements of everyday life and how people build their identities, experiences, and relationships through them.... this collection of insights and arguments will serve general audiences, marketers, and students looking for fruitful ways of assessing consumer culture. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; students, lower-division undergraduate and up; and professionals." ―Choice, February 2006
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