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2023/2024  BA-BMAKO2001U  Cultural Analysis and Consumer Culture Studies

English Title
Cultural Analysis and Consumer Culture Studies

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 15 ECTS
Type Mandatory (also offered as elective)
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BSc in Business Administration and Market Dynamics and Cultural Analysis
Course coordinator
  • Ana Alacovska - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Communication
  • Sociology
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 19-06-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Explain and compare the fundamental concepts, theories and frameworks in consumer culture theory
  • Explain and analyze how culture affects markets and consumer behavior
  • Account critically and reflexively for the implications of the cultural and social embeddedness of markets and consumption
  • Compare and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of a range of qualitative methodologies for consumer culture study
  • Apply qualitative methodologies to the empirical study of consumer culture phenomena
  • Critically evaluate and reflect upon the procedures and outcomes of cultural analysis
  • Critically evaluate the leveraging potential of generated cultural insight and foresight
Prerequisites for registering for the exam (activities during the teaching period)
Number of compulsory activities which must be approved (see section 13 of the Programme Regulations): 2
Compulsory home assignments
In order to gain the right to attend the exam the students must submit two out of two compulsory assignments as part of their group-work. Sustained feedback will be provided by the teachers in a variety of formats in connection to the assignments. Groups consisting of 3-4 students each.

Oral presentations etc.
The compulsory assignments consist of the following:

First assignment: Submission of a written paper on the basis of a pre-given consumer culture case. The students will receive tailor-made feedback on the assignment via tutorials. The written assignment must be completed in groups. The tutorials are related to the group-work. Groups consisting of 3-4 students each.

Second assignment: Submission of a written paper based on pilot research related to independently chosen consumer culture phenomenon. The written submission is followed by tutorials where dedicated feedback is given on the assignment. Assignment and tutorials based on group-work. Groups consisting of 3-4 students each.
Cultural Analysis and Consumer Culture Studies:
Exam ECTS 15
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance, see also the rules about examination forms in the programme regulations.
Individual or group exam Oral group exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 3-4
Size of written product Please see text below
3 students: max 30 pages
4 students: max 40 pages
Assignment type Report
Release of assignment Subject chosen by students themselves, see guidelines if any
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and external examiner
Exam period Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam. In case of sickness at the time of the oral exam, students can participate at the re-take individually provided that they have contributed towards the preparation of the written group project. The group project should be re-submitted. If an individual student had failed the oral exam, the student can participate at the re-take by re-submitting the written group project.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The course introduces the students to the fundamental concepts, theories, frameworks and methods in consumer culture theory (CCT). The course is interdisciplinary in nature as the consumer culture theory rather than being one grand theoretical model represents an assemblage of diverse and interdependent approaches mobilized from within sociology, anthropology and cultural studies so as to explain, understand and analyze the cultural embeddedness of markets. The course equips the students with the basic methodological skill-set for conducting qualitative consumer culture study including in-depth individual and group interviews, ethnographic methods, digital and visual methods. Issues related to philosophy of science are also covered.


It is the main assumption of the course that markets, apart from being economic phenomena, are also embedded in social and cultural contexts whereby culture influences the way markets operate and shape consumers’ conduct, behavior and action. The last couple of decades bear indeed witness to a rather extraordinary flourishing of sociological, anthropological and cultural studies scholarship which seeks both to critique the analytical assumptions and research procedures commonly used in mainstream economics, and also offer sociologically and anthropologically grounded accounts of economic phenomena such as consumption. In the effort to arrive at cultural explanations of consumption, the course assumes that consumption rather than being a deliberate sovereign consumer act of acquisition and purchase of objects/services, is a nexus of cultural elements, social expectations, practical competence, distinction, materialities, ideologies, cultural scripts and meaning structures immanent in the consumer practices of cleaning, repairing, mending, wearing, displaying, showcasing, storing, caring, sharing, disposing, depleting, recycling, borrowing etc.


The course therefore approaches consumption from a particular perspective of the interlocking relationship between social actors and markets, technologies, materialities, popular culture, ideological and moral categories. In this course we will  theoretically and analytically follow the life of objects ('consumer objects') while charting a historical, genealogical, material, cultural and social lineage of how social actors interact with objects (including intangible objects such as sounds, images, ideas, experiences) and their meaning but also material affordances and infrastructures. While following 'the life of objects' we closely follow the distinct epistemological developments within CCT.


Accordingly, we will: 1) focus on the rise of the hyper-consumption society and zoom in on consumer rituals, identity-formation projects and the symbolic aspects of possessions and ‘loved objects’; 2) examine the tribal aspects of consumption and zoom in on marketplace sub-cultures, digital cultures, social movements, consumer communities and socialites; 3) concentrate on consumer practices and zoom in on how objects are implicated in human and non-human agencements underpinning  routine, habituated and repetitive everyday activities; 4) investigate the recent shift from owning objects to digitally-enabled sharing, accessing and commoning in the newly emerging ‘sharing economy’; and finally 5) probe the moral limits of the markets and investigate the commodification of ‘sacred objects’ and the dynamics of ‘taboo markets’.

Description of the teaching methods
The course is taught through a mix of lectures, tutorials and exercises involving hands-on assignments.
Feedback during the teaching period
The students receive feedback on an ongoing basis and in various forms such as:

- group feedback on a written assignment
- group feedback on oral presentations in class
- peer-feedback in group discussions
- individual feedback during office hours
Student workload
Lectures 72 hours
Preparation for classes and interim obligatory assignments 240 hours
Preparation for the exam 102 hours
Expected literature

(Example of potential literature, subject to change):


Almeling, R. (2007). Selling genes, selling gender: Egg agencies, sperm banks, and the medical market in genetic material. American Sociological Review, 72(3), 319-340.

Arnould, E. J., & Thompson, C. J. (2005). Consumer culture theory (CCT): Twenty years of research. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(4), 868-882.

Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139-168.

Belk, R. W. (2013). Extended self in a digital world. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(3), 477-500.

Belk, R., Fischer, E., & Kozinets, R. V. (2012). Qualitative consumer and marketing research. Sage.

Hebdige, D. (2004). The Italian scooter cycle. Material Culture: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences, 2

Miller, D. (2010). Stuff. Polity.

Shove, E., & Pantzar, M. (2005). Consumers, producers and practices: Understanding the invention and reinvention of Nordic walking. Journal of consumer culture, 5(1), 43-64.

Wherry, F. F. (2012). The culture of markets. Polity.

Last updated on 19-06-2023