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Consumption, Crisis and Selfhood

A BSA Consumption Study Group Webinar Series

October/November/December 2022

Call for Papers

We welcome abstract submissions for a series of three interlinked webinars on the topic of 'Consumption, Crisis and Selfhood'. The webinars are open to all and will take place online every month from October to December 2022.

The interlocking crises of austerity, the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent 'cost of living crisis', have profoundly impacted on our consumption practices, especially our ability to consume and our relationships to material objects. This series of online events seeks to examine sociological perspectives around these practices and to consider research which helps to make sense of the evolving relationships between consumption and crisis. How is consumption positioned in contemporary neoliberal societies as a solution to crisis? How have individuals transformed consciously or otherwise their consumption practices because of crisis? What role does digital media - for example 'influencing' - play in facilitating these transformations?

Much early research examining the impact of Covid-19 has focused on the exacerbation of pre-existing inequalities during and after the pandemic. However, surprisingly little has considered the impact of the pandemic on our ability to consume nor on how our relationships to objects or 'clutter' might have changed. This series aims to explore new and shifting relationships to material objects and to mass consumption. It aims to connect with recent ideas around 'wellness' and minimalism as response to the pandemic and the ensuing sense of uncertainty and anxiety that has accompanied it. As ideas around 'mess' and 'messy' have recently entered the popular lexicon, we seek to understand how our relationship to consumption has changed. How can the management of homes and the objects within them be seen to offer a way of controlling a messy and chaotic world?

Papers might explore the shifting meanings behind tidying and organising objects; the reorganisation of objects; the meanings behind 'lost' or 'dormant' objects. We are also interested in the rise of 'minimalism' as a wellness concept that might in part be seen as coalescing with ethical and sustainable consumption but is simultaneously a heavily commodified aesthetic of 'tidy' domestic spaces. Who does the work of putting objects back into place and what role does social media play in the curating of these spaces?

Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Hoarding
  • 'Flawed' consumers and stigmatised consumption
  • Decluttering and minimalism
  • Wellbeing and consumption
  • Gender work and care
  • Thrift and bulk buying, stockpiling and 'panic buying'
  • 'Mess' and 'messiness'
  • Anti-materialism
  • Digital platforms of consumption and social media
  • Influencing


Please submit a short abstract of 250 words to the Convenors by 1 July 2022 stating which of the three webinars you would like to present at. The themes are as follows:

  1. Consumption in the Aftermath of Covid (October 2022)
  2. Consumption and the Cost of Living Crisis (November 2022)
  3. Clutter and Minimalism; How Objects Come and Go (December 2022)