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Conference on politics of consumption returns to UW-Madison

March 1, 2011

The University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication will host a conference this week examining the intersection of consumption, citizenship, media and marketing.

“Communication, Consumers, and Citizens: Revisiting the Politics of Consumption” will run from March 3-5, with a program of presentations by leading scholars and practitioners open to the public on March 4. Many of the visiting presenters will be returning to Madison after participating in a similar conference in 2006.

The event will explore a range of perspectives at the intersection of consumer and civil society: boycotting and other forms of political consumerism, conscientious consumption, cultural capital, political marketing, sustainable environmentalism and the notion of the citizen-consumer, and will do so from the standpoint of communication, history, marketing, political science and sociology.

“Bringing together leading experts from a variety of disciplines is a truly unique and extraordinary opportunity to exchange and coordinate work in this vitally important field,” says Dhavan Shah, Maier-Bascom Professor in the UW–Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication and the faculty chair of the conference. “After how well received the 2006 conference was, it made perfect sense to revisit these questions five years later, as interest in the intersection of consumer and civil society has accelerated. Indeed, the timing of our conference could not be more apt given the recent events here in Madison.”

Recognizing these issues are not only important in academic circles but also they animate the conversations of politicians, social activists and public-minded citizens. The goal of the event is to present scholarship, and ultimately produce papers, that are accessible to both academic and general audiences. The conference follows up on the influential and successful October 2006 edition, the presented papers of which were published in “The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.” These works have been cited more than 300 times, and the journal will again be publishing articles from the 2011 conference.

Among the scholars and practitioners traveling to Madison to share their work at the conference are: Eric Arnould of the University of Wyoming, Lance Bennett of the University of Washington, Bruce Bimber of UC-Santa Barbara, T. H. Breen of Northwestern University, Will Feltus of National Media, Doug Holt of the University of Oxford, Michelle Micheletti of Stockholm University, Margaret Scammell of the London School of Economics, Juliet Schor of Boston College and Dietlind Stolle of McGill University.

The conference, which is being produced by the School of Journalism & Mass Communication’s Consumer Culture & Civic Participation group, is co-sponsored by the European Union Center of Excellence, the UW Department of Marketing, the UW School of Business, and the Damm Fund of the Journal Foundation. Additional support is provided by UW Departments of Communication Arts, Political Science and Sociology, the UW School of Journalism & Mass Communication and the Hamel Faculty Fellowship. For more information on the schedule of events and the specific presenters and presentations, visit the event website.