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Identity, choice and consumer freedom - the new opiates? A psychoanalytic interrogation

Yiannis, Gabriel LU (2015) In Marketing Theory 15(1). p.25-30
Abstract
Psychoanalysis opens a variety of windows into understanding contemporary consumption and consumerism. The psychoanalytic theory of defence and the unconscious enables us to understand why commodities, from fast cars to luxury chocolate, so readily stand in to offer substitute gratification for deeper repressed desires and why the meaning of such commodities is liable to become mobile and unstable (Baudrillard, 1988 [1970]). The psychoanalytic concepts of narcissism (Freud, 1914) and the mirror stage (Lacan, 2006) provide powerful entry points into understanding our culture's obsession with image (Cluley and Dunne, 2012), whilst the theory of neurosis offers significant insights into the addictive and deeply irrational qualities of... (More)
Psychoanalysis opens a variety of windows into understanding contemporary consumption and consumerism. The psychoanalytic theory of defence and the unconscious enables us to understand why commodities, from fast cars to luxury chocolate, so readily stand in to offer substitute gratification for deeper repressed desires and why the meaning of such commodities is liable to become mobile and unstable (Baudrillard, 1988 [1970]). The psychoanalytic concepts of narcissism (Freud, 1914) and the mirror stage (Lacan, 2006) provide powerful entry points into understanding our culture's obsession with image (Cluley and Dunne, 2012), whilst the theory of neurosis offers significant insights into the addictive and deeply irrational qualities of contemporary consumption (Lasch, 1980). Object relations theory (Winnicott, 1964) enables us to understand how material objects, from early childhood attachments to teddy bears, act as bridges between our sense of self and what we come to view as an external world deeply indifferent to our desires. Several other psychoanalytic concepts and ideas have proven particularly helpful in contemporary discourses on consumption. This essay draws its inspiration from Freud's theory of religion (Freud,1927, 1930) to test the view that the consumer's freedom to choose and construct an identity is an illusion in the technical sense - a fantasy that discloses deeper desires and offers substitute gratifications for the discontents inflicted on us by contemporary consumer culture. Like earlier illusions, the illusion of freedom and the derivative illusions of choice and identity may provide some consolation, but, arguably, then deepen the discontents for which they purport to offer comfort. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Marketing Theory
volume
15
issue
1
pages
25 - 30
publisher
SAGE Publications Inc.
external identifiers
  • wos:000350489500006
  • scopus:84924804787
ISSN
1741-301X
DOI
10.1177/1470593114558525
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ee629281-b321-4c0d-af6f-0be3e6cd2f32 (old id 5300480)
date added to LUP
2015-04-24 10:55:53
date last changed
2017-01-01 03:30:57
@article{ee629281-b321-4c0d-af6f-0be3e6cd2f32,
  abstract     = {Psychoanalysis opens a variety of windows into understanding contemporary consumption and consumerism. The psychoanalytic theory of defence and the unconscious enables us to understand why commodities, from fast cars to luxury chocolate, so readily stand in to offer substitute gratification for deeper repressed desires and why the meaning of such commodities is liable to become mobile and unstable (Baudrillard, 1988 [1970]). The psychoanalytic concepts of narcissism (Freud, 1914) and the mirror stage (Lacan, 2006) provide powerful entry points into understanding our culture's obsession with image (Cluley and Dunne, 2012), whilst the theory of neurosis offers significant insights into the addictive and deeply irrational qualities of contemporary consumption (Lasch, 1980). Object relations theory (Winnicott, 1964) enables us to understand how material objects, from early childhood attachments to teddy bears, act as bridges between our sense of self and what we come to view as an external world deeply indifferent to our desires. Several other psychoanalytic concepts and ideas have proven particularly helpful in contemporary discourses on consumption. This essay draws its inspiration from Freud's theory of religion (Freud,1927, 1930) to test the view that the consumer's freedom to choose and construct an identity is an illusion in the technical sense - a fantasy that discloses deeper desires and offers substitute gratifications for the discontents inflicted on us by contemporary consumer culture. Like earlier illusions, the illusion of freedom and the derivative illusions of choice and identity may provide some consolation, but, arguably, then deepen the discontents for which they purport to offer comfort.},
  author       = {Yiannis, Gabriel},
  issn         = {1741-301X},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {25--30},
  publisher    = {SAGE Publications Inc.},
  series       = {Marketing Theory},
  title        = {Identity, choice and consumer freedom - the new opiates? A psychoanalytic interrogation},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1470593114558525},
  volume       = {15},
  year         = {2015},
}