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

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Cities, Visual Consumption of

DENNIS ZUEV

CIES-ISCTE, Portugal

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs235

The idea of visual consumption focuses on the graphic or optical aspects of the commercial world, including the acts of looking and seeing and the production of images and messages. Visual consumption can be exemplified by walking in the red light district in Amsterdam, watching a Euroleague football game, browsing the internet, gazing at advertising posters at the bus stop, gaping at skyscrapers in Shanghai, looking at museum exhibitions in Dubai, or watching a gay pride parade in São Paulo.

Visual consumption is a key attribute of an experience economy where images and visual texts have become important parts of making sense of various human experiences. In visual consumption the underlying sociological issues of status display, emerging taste publics, and social differentiation play an important role in understanding how visual consumption can be managed and governed. Visual consumption is driven by the laws of decoding of visual texts by taste publics which possess knowledge of optical, graphic, aesthetic, ideological, and linguistic codes. Advertising plays a prominent role in the visual consumption landscape as it represents an important institution in routinizing, or establishing, the primacy of image consumption over physical or tactile consumption.

The starting point for understanding visual consumption, as Schroeder (2002) suggests, is the image. Simultaneously, one can ...

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