The substance of consumption : alchemy, addiction and the commodity.

Cronin, Anne (2002) The substance of consumption : alchemy, addiction and the commodity. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 5 (3). pp. 316-335. ISSN 1367-8779

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This article reconsiders the category of 'commodity' by exploring its historical and contemporary articulation with the category of 'drug' and the way in which both have been figured as transformative. I argue that ideas of substance, substance-dependency, willpower, structures of feeling and social struggles over power amass or materialize at particular moments in their cultural circulation. They coalesce temporarily into a structure conventionally apprehended as a commodity. Thus, values, norms, ideals and feelings substantialize in the form of the commodity. In turn, our relationship to commodities is called on to substantiate or legitimize a particular framing of our social order and control of social groups structured around 'good commodity-drugs', 'bad drugs' and so-called addictive consumption practices. Through such a framework, I analyse the category of 'commodity' as transformational prism which tracks its complex discursive trajectories through pathology, social order, materiality, willpower and feeling.

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Journal Article
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International Journal of Cultural Studies
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18 Sep 2008 08:26
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 18:13