The fool, the hero and the sage: narratives of non-consumption as role distance from an urban consumer-self

Nixon, Elizabeth (2018) The fool, the hero and the sage: narratives of non-consumption as role distance from an urban consumer-self. Consumption, Markets and Culture . ISSN 1477-223X

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One fruitful perspective with which to think differently about the consuming subject in affluent capitalist societies can be found in the field of non-consumption. Whilst ‘choices’ not to buy, own and use are often tacit in analyses of social class dynamics, identity expression, and consumer resistance, here we adopt the dramaturgical perspective of Erving Goffman to argue that forms of non-consumption may occur within expressions of role distance. Our interpretive analysis of interview narratives identifies three imagoes - the fool, the hero and the sage - that our informants reproduced to disaffiliate from a virtual self generated by participation in the shopping situations dominating many urban centres. We conclude that buying and consuming less in ‘everyday’ contexts may require the performance of alternative, culturally-available personas, and that role distance can signify alienation from a consumer role or, conversely, constitute a defence against actual attachment to it.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Consumption, Markets and Culture on [date of publication], available online:
Keywords: Goffman, imago, narrative, non-consumption, role distance, shopping
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Social Sciences > Nottingham University Business School
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2018 10:35
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 19:38

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