The “right to consume”? Re-thinking the dynamics of exclusion/inclusion in consumer society

Jacob C. Miller*, Tony Stovall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Consumption is a political relationship. This article considers competing political discourses around consumption as different versions of a hypothetical right to consume. In the first section, we consider how the domain of consumption can express the critical potential of the “right to the city,” a concept inspired by Henri Lefebvre that has had widespread influence in urban studies and related fields. In the second section we consider how the right to consume can also become a bulwark for capitalist ideologies of an individualistic and destructive right to consume. A third section concludes on recent trends in consumption studies that point to ways that capitalism seeks to assuage and manage these tensions through ongoing innovations in consumer technology and finance. New questions about rights and democracy must emerge to confront this new techno-economy of consumer relations. In short, while we affirm the right to consume for the most vulnerable, we also insist on deconstructing the system of consumption as it is currently configured.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-581
JournalConsumption Markets and Culture
Issue number5-6
Early online date4 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The “right to consume”? Re-thinking the dynamics of exclusion/inclusion in consumer society'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this