SO5010 - Consumption, Culture and Identities

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What will I learn on this module?

The study of consumption and consumerism is a fundamental part of our everyday lives, experiences and identities. This module will explore a wide variety of sociological theories of consumption at both national and international level. It will introduce a range of approaches in order to help explore the political, cultural, global and historical context of consumption, branding and production. The module will offer students a unique opportunity to apply key contemporary and classical theories of consumption in order to explore the mapping of class, race and gender on consumer practices. Students are also encouraged to recognise the limitations of these ideas and to examine alternative theories of consumption and 'lifestyle'. They will also consider and evaluate a variety of sociological debates concerning global approaches to commodification and commercialisation by exploring the globalisation of food production and Fair Trade movements.

How will I learn on this module?

This module will be taught via weekly one hour lectures and smaller seminars during which general topics pertinent to the module will be discussed. The lectures will be research-led, directed by the research expertise of teaching staff. An interactive and student-led approach will be encouraged in seminars, and lectures and seminars will incorporate a range of mediums, including documentaries and online resources as appropriate. Emphasis is placed on developing independent learning skills, especially via independent research of a wide range of information sources, including photography, Archive materials, online campaigning organisations, as well as academic books and journals.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported via elp which will host all lecture and seminar PowerPoint presentations and activities which will be made available before the lecture or seminar. In addition, information around set readings for the module will be displayed. All assessment details, guidelines, hand-in dates and learning outcomes will be clearly visible here. The teaching programme will incorporate assessment preparation and module tutors will set aside time for one to one tutorials ahead of the assessment deadlines.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of sociological and cultural theory concerned with consumption. you will be able to explore these theories and use them to provide a critical account of the contemporary world of consumption both nationally and internationally.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• Applying sociological and cultural theories of consumption to “real” examples from contemporary consumer society, including to policy-led initiatives, branding, and “dangerous” forms of consumption

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• Analyse and discuss the complex relationships between consumption and society, via a critical awareness of the social and ethical challenges embedded in debates about consumption.

How will I be assessed?

This module will be assessed by a 3,000 word essay and a 15 minute group presentation.

Summative Assessment:

• The essay will test knowledge and critical understanding of the topic area.

• The oral group presentation will test students' ability to apply theories to a personalised case study and offers a forum to discuss ideas with peers. Formal and informal feedback from the presentation will contribute to students' understanding and can be utilised in the preparation of the final essay.

Formative Assessment:

• Students will have the opportunity for formative feedback comment on their essay through peer evaluation of an essay plan.





Module abstract

Consumption is one of the central features of contemporary society. The latter half of the twentieth century witnessed dramatic transformations in the way that we consume. In particular, we see rapid shifts in shopping practices, technological changes especially the rise of the Internet, advertising and branding and the globalisation of consumption. This module offers you an exciting opportunity to learn about the role that consumption plays in the world in which we live and how it helps to inform our identities. The lectures will be research-led, drawing on the research interests and expertise of teaching staff. The module will make use of a variety of learning approaches, including photography, documentaries, online campaigns and Archive materials. The module also examines deviant and sometimes criminal consumer practices such as looting, shopping ‘addiction’ and international trading laws.

Course info

UCAS Code LM39

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

Fee Information

Module Information

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