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Consumer culture matters: insights from contemporary representations of cooking

Brownlie, D. and Hewer, P.A. (2007) Consumer culture matters: insights from contemporary representations of cooking. Advances in Consumer Research, 34. pp. 175-179. ISSN 0098-9258

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Abstract

The dynamic of this paper is partly driven by curiosity about the apparent lack of curiosity regarding food, its preparation, presentation, serving and consumption, which suggest themselves as interestingly constructed and contestable sites of knowledge about contemporary consumer culture. A number of useful ethnographic studies have analysed notions of homemade food (Moisio, Arnould and Price, 2004; Wallendorf and Arnould 1991) and the practices of unbranding foodstuffs (Coupland, Iacobucci and Arnould 2005), paving the way for a focus upon representations of food and their attendant spaces of appropriation and practices. We build upon their lines of thought by arguing that cooking must be understood to mark the 'transition between nature and culture' (Levi-Strauss 1970: 164). If this is so, then it clearly suggests a potentially rich vein of social inquiry about how consumers construct their worlds in and through texts and its attendant talk around food. For such representations we believe are so bound up with our lives that they can be seen to do all sorts of identity work and can be read as providing consumers with what we term recipes for life instructing them on the whys and wherefores of consuming, providing quick, easy and tailored solutions to time-strapped, harried consumers to resolve in an imaginary fashion the problems of contemporary life (Hewer and Brownlie, 2006).