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Asia through consumption


Admission requirements

Only for students of MA programme in Asian Studies


Mass availability of consumer goods has had the most significant impact upon the way of life of ordinary people during the last hundred years. No aspect of daily life has been left untouched by the emergence of the consumer society. It has not only satisfied our needs, and created new ones, but also in many ways affected the ways we view the world and our position in it. Consumerism, which may be defined as the cultural expression and manifestation of the routine practices of consumption, not only structures our everyday lives, but also offers us the illusion of freedom. This course will explore the historical transformation of consumption and its growing impact on society, with particular reference to Asia.

Course objectives

This course aims to introduce students to the key theoretical and conceptual literature on
consumer society and to familiarize them with the ways to apply this literature to the study of Asian societies in both historical and contemporary contexts. We will explore the place of consumption (of both material objects and experiences) within modernity and post-modernity.


Four contact hours per week (twice a week) during the first block of the second semester (the so-called ‘fat module course’).

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Participation element (attendance, assignments): 35%
Analytic element (3 position papers): 25%
Research element (research essay 4000 words): 40%


Blackboard will be used extensively in this course.

Reading list

Aldridge, Alan. 2003. Consumption. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Additional readings will be made available for dowload through Blackboard and the University Library, or will be on reserve in the East Asia Library.




This is a ‘fat module’ course offered in the first block of the second semester only.