Anti-Consumption in East Germany: Consumer Resistance to Hyperconsumption

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Marketing and Fashion Merchandising


A common ideology of consumption is that more things translate to a higher quality of life. This paper challenges this ideology. We explore the consumption resistance (anti-consumption) of "cheap and low-quality'' goods experienced by consumers living in former East Germany. We interviewed men and women who lived in East Germany about their consumption experiences before, during, and after Reunification. We present three emergent themes: "consumer resistance - emergence of anti-consumption,'' "continued frugality - resistance to contemporary throwawayism?,'' and "Western Brand Resistance.'' Our research reveals a deep aversion among East Germans to the modern, bureaucratic and obligatory practice of throwawayism and hyperconsumption. We find feelings of resentment and betrayal and discover a much deeper issue with consumption: the fact that consumption is often a disillusioning experience and that material possessions and abundance are actually driving East Germans apart - making them feel less socially connected. As East Germans are swept up in the global economic juggernaut of capitalism, they find that their collective identity and sense of community is also swallowed up. Upon this realization, dialogism appears, and we uncover this as resistance to Western practices of hyperconsumption, frugality-as-an-ethic and an aversion to low quality throwaway-type products. Based on our findings, we make suggestions for marketing practice and for future research. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Journal of Consumer Behaviour





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