A Theory of Shopping | Zookal Textbooks | Zookal Textbooks
  • Author(s) Daniel Miller
  • Edition1
  • Published10th April 1998
  • PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons (UK)
  • ISBN9780745619453
A Theory of Shopping offers a highly original perspective on
one of our most basic everyday activities - shopping. We commonly
assume that shopping is primarily concerned with individuals and
materialism. But Miller rejects this assumption and follows the
surprising route of analysing shopping by means of an analogy with
anthropological studies of sacrificial ritual. He argues that the
act of purchasing goods is almost always linked to other social
relations, and most especially those based on love and care.

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.

A Theory of Shopping

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  • Author(s) Daniel Miller
  • Edition1
  • Published10th April 1998
  • PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons (UK)
  • ISBN9780745619453
A Theory of Shopping offers a highly original perspective on
one of our most basic everyday activities - shopping. We commonly
assume that shopping is primarily concerned with individuals and
materialism. But Miller rejects this assumption and follows the
surprising route of analysing shopping by means of an analogy with
anthropological studies of sacrificial ritual. He argues that the
act of purchasing goods is almost always linked to other social
relations, and most especially those based on love and care.

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.

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