WHITNEY ERIN BOESEL
University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
University of Maryland, USA
Prosumption is characterized by the blurring of production and consumption. Prosumption analyses therefore focus on both production and consumption simultaneously, rather than on either independently (Ritzer and Jurgenson 2010). Prosumers consume what they produce and/or produce what they consume (Toffler 1980).
Alvin Toffler first discusses “the rise of the prosumer” in his book The Third Wave (1980, 265), yet the majority of interest in both “prosumption” and related concepts (e.g., co-creation, peer-production, wikinomics, or crowdsourcing) has been more recent. Prosumption is therefore a contemporary term, but the blurring of production and consumption is itself not a new phenomenon (Toffler 1980; Ritzer 2009). Peasants on pre-industrial farms, for instance, often produced what they consumed. Toffler and Ritzer both argue that the industrial revolution divided production and consumption into separate spheres.
Prosumptive practices are increasingly common. Toffler (1980) cites the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement, the rise of self-help as a phenomenon, and the shift toward self-service in electronic banking and grocery stores to argue that consumers are increasingly active producers; there has since been a proliferation of ATMs, self-checkout machines at pharmacies and grocery stores, and electronic kiosks in hotels, movie theaters, ...