Satisfaction and its discontents: value, consumerism and culture (Prof. David Clarke)

Following on from previous research on consumerism, this project aims to reassess the nature of value in the context of a consumer society. The lasting influence of Romanticism on contemporary culture forms the starting point of a textual analysis of the political economy of Thomas De Quincey, whose reformulation of David Ricardo’s value theory exhibits the influence of De Quincey’s opium addiction. De Quincey effectively departed from Ricardo in theorizing the determinants of exchange-value, unwittingly disclosing the nature of desire and the possibility of satisfaction in a commodified culture. This research has a wider bearing in terms of the prevalence of addiction in consumer societies and relates to both the theorization of the desiring subject and the conceptualization of contemporary consumerism.

Shopping behaviours and consumer disadvantage (Dr Rosemary Bromley)

The changing locations of stores and the transformation of shopping environments have impacted on consumers in a variety of ways. The carless shopper and the elderly have frequently been classed as disadvantaged consumers. Moreover the disabled shopper encounters a further range of access difficulties, which remain despite the Disability Discrimination Act. This research area focuses on the ways in which retail and shopping centre planning can be more inclusive. As a policy-relevant area of research, funding has been forthcoming from major retailers such as Marks and Spencer and ASDA, as well as local and national government organisations.