An anthropological study of contemporary consumer culture: Observing the multiple effects of globalization on the changing values of things
consumer culture, changing value, globalization
This research will direct attention to the multisided character of distribution and consumption as aspects of globalization, exploring new possibilities for the anthropological study of contemporary consumer culture. The project will examine numerous examples of consumption from all over the world: used and copied products in Africa, Japanese anime in Thailand, fair trade goods in Ghana and Laos, jewelry in Nepal, ready made ethnic dress among the Miao, a minority ethnic group in China, hand-woven carpets in Turkey, karate and cosmetics in Egypt, the distribution and consumption of whale meat in Japan. The case studies will focus on two issues: The first topic will be how goods move between advanced and newly industrializing nations and the regions under study. Our aim will be to clarify changes in the value of the items traded, including investigation of how best to reconstruct and recreate the global economic system. The second topic will be changes in self-expression and identity in the targeted regions as these reflect new perspectives on environment and gender, breaking down the results by class and generation, to explore similarities and differences between the targeted regions and Japan and other advanced economies.