A Theory of Shopping
April 1998, Polity
The ethnographic sections of the book are based on a year's study of shopping on a street in North London. This provides the basis for a sensitive description of the issues the shopper confronts when making decisions as to what to buy. Miller develops a theory to account for these observations, arguing that shopping typically consists of three major stages which reflect the three key stages of many rites of sacrifice. In both shopping and sacrifice the ultimate intention is to constitute others as desiring subjects. Finally the book examines certain historical shifts in both subjects and objects of devotion, in particular, ideals of gender and love.
This treatment of shopping from the perspective of comparative anthropology represents a highly innovative approach to one of the most familiar tasks of our daily lives. Written in a clear and accessible manner, this book will be of interest to students and academics in anthropology, sociology and cultural studies, as well as anybody who wants to consider more deeply the nature of their own everyday activities.
1. Making Love in Supermarkets.
2. Shopping as Sacrifice.
3. Subjects and Objects of Devotion.
- Highly original and unusual approach to the study of an everyday activity - shopping, which the author analyses using anthropological studies of sacrificial ritual
- The book is based on substantial research
- It is very accessible for the non-specialist and the author's argument is clear
- The author is well-known internationally for his writings on material culture.
"His demystification of what appears to be, on the surface, straightforward juggling of cost, quantity and quality is absorbing reading." New Statesman and Society
"Miller's Hegelian assumptions are provocative and testing. In short an exhilarating book." New Formations
"Miller begins with an excellent and sensitive ethnography of shopping firmly rooted among his own native north Londoners. It is a fine example of what an anthropologist can achieve at home." The Times Higher Education Supplement