Consumerism and Miscellanenous Pop Culture Topics

This page is the beginning of a page that will have short sections on a range of topics, starting with consumerism, toys, and theme parks, that don't (yet) have their own pages on this site.


We are all consumers of pop cultural and other products. But consumerISM is a common social disease that entails the endless pursuit of more and more goods and services. Consumerism often equates ownership of things with identity. This attitude is captured in the once common phrase, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins." Beginning in the 1950s, consumerism was even seen as patriotic act demanding of all citizens. More recently, ethno-consumerism, the market to specific ethnic groups and subculture, and the marketing of ethnic cultures and subcultures, has gained momentum amidst neo-liberal globalization. Pop culture drives consumerism both through straight advertising and through the marketing of consumerist lifestyles in film, TV shows, the Web and other mass media.

Selected Representative Studies in Historical and Current National and Transnational Consumerism

Banet, Weiser, Sarah. Kids Rule! Nickelodean and Consumer Citizenship.

Blaszczyk, Regina Lee. Imagining Consumers: Design and Innovation from Wedgwood to Corning.

Bronner, Simon J. ed, Consuming Visions: Accumulation and Display of Goods in America, 1880-1920.

Canclini, Nestor Garcia. Consumers as Citizens.

Chasin, Alexandar. Selling OutL The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to the Market.

Cohen, Lizbeth. A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America.

Davila, Arlene. Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing of a People.

Denning, Michael. Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working-Class Culture in America.

Ewen, Stuart. Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture.

Fox, Richard Wightman, and T. J. Jackson Lears, eds., The Culture of Consumption: Critical Essays in American History, 1880-1980.

Frank, Thomas. The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counter-culture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism.

Heinz, Andrew R. Adapting to Abundance: Jewish Immigrants, Mass Consumption, and the Search for American Identity.

Horowitz, Daniel. Anxieties of Affluence: Critiques of American Consumer Culture, 1939-1979.

Jacobson, Lisa. Raising Consumers: Children and the American Mass market in the Early Twentieth Century.

Matt, Susan J. Keeping up with the Joneses: Envy in American Consumer Society, 1890-1930.

Park, Lisa Sun-hee. Consuming Citizenship.

Pendergast, Tom. Creating the Modern Man: American Magazines and Consumer Culture, 1900-1950.

Pitcher, Be, Consuming Race..

Rosenzweig, Roy. “Eight Hours for What We Will”: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870-1920.

Sturken, Marita. Memory, Kitsch and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero.

Weems, Robert E. Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century.

George Carlin on American Consumerism. A different approach to critique of consumerism (content warning: Mr. Carlin uses all 7 of the words that he famously noted are banned from mainstream television)


  • The official site from Mattel Co. is amazingly rich in Barbiana. Try out "I can be..." to find out which Barbie you want to be. I'm holding out for radical acitivist Barbie.
  • Barbie Doll Analysis Essays. From a dubious source -- a term paper "help" site -- but with some interesting introductory essays on the cultural significance of Barbie. Needless to say, do not try submitting these essays in any class. Profs are hip to this now.
  • Barbie Doll Video Playlist. Barbie dolls have been perhaps the most analyzed toy in human history. There is a vast scholarly and popular literature on them/her. This link takes you to a large collection of Barbie doll videos -- analyses, parodies, and commercials that give a sense of how she is being marketed today (including, of course Video Barbie, with a camcorder in her necklace.
  • "Barbie's Hips Don't Lie." An Atlantic article looking at the new line up of diverse body types and skin tones for the iconic doll.
  • "Fifty Years of Barbie." Brief BBC news article tracing Barbie's 50 year career. Weak on analysis but provides some overview of B's enduring legacy.
  • "Fulla, the Veiled Barbie." Analysis of the creation of an Islamic Barbie look-alike doll in black abaya (head to toe covering).

Theme Parks for Kids and Adults