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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Body and Consumer Culture

KEILA TYNER

Texas State University, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs025

In recent decades, social scientists have placed much importance on understanding the body, particularly as a site whereby the individual connects to and interacts with the social world around them. Much of this theorizing on the body takes into account one of two distinct approaches, the first of which is the notion that “we have a body” (Featherstone 2006), implying that the body is a separate entity from the true inner self. The second approach involves a more complex understanding of how the body is lived in or the experience of embodiment whereby the body is an integrated aspect of the true inner self – that is, “we are a body” (Featherstone 2006). Contemporary reflections on these seemingly divergent understandings of the body suggest that an integrated approach is possible (Turner 2006) and called for in further theorizing on the body within the context of consumer culture.

Traditional Cartesian thought considers the body a subordinate object to the superior subject of the mind (i.e., subject–object relationship). Here, the mind is a distinct and separate entity from the body, exerting control over the body – “we have a body.” Cartesian understanding of the body is situated on this binary construction of mind/body, whereby personhood, self, and identity are viewed as independent of the human body. “In Cartesian view of the world, though vision is privileged as the sense ...

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