The Dreamlife of Shoppers

Studying Consumer Affairs

I Want That! might soothe your guilt about Christmas splurges. But who needs a book for that? With President Bush urging us to spend money to bolster the economy, shopping now equals patriotic duty rather than a giant leech that saps the culture's energy—energy that might, dare I say, be put to more creative use.

The Shopping News: Model consumers, De Bijenkorf Department Store, Amsterdam, 1950
photo: Friedrick Vordemberge-Gildewart/Courtesy Hatje Cantz Publishers
The Shopping News: Model consumers, De Bijenkorf Department Store, Amsterdam, 1950

Gliding toward the checkout line, I think about what it means to be a thinking shopper, about how to combine the bliss of the flaneur with a greater sense of the cultural forces that define us. Neither Shopping nor Koolhaas's Guide hits the spot exactly, but both hint at what shopping studies could be: a complex, subtle field that follows the tentacles of consumerism as they reach ever deeper into our lives, influencing political policy and altering the way we see the world.

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