Objects of consumption, causes of desire : consumerism and advertising in societies of commanded enjoymentPart of : Γράμμα : περιοδικό θεωρίας και κριτικής ; Vol.14, No.1, 2006, pages 83-105
The object of psychoanalysis - Subjectivity and culture
Today consumption, advertising and branding constitute central aspects of social life, shaping economic, cultural and even political identifications. How can one make sense of this hegemony of consumerism in (late) capitalist societies? How can we account for the centrality of advertising discourse, which is now emerging as our predominant fantasmatic horizon? Can psychoanalysis be of any help here? Drawing on the Lacanian theorizations of desire and enjoyment, this essay answers in the affirmative. It registers the symbolic coordinates of consumerist desire, traces the imaginary lure of advertising fantasies and locates the real support for consumer culture in the (partial) jouissance entailed in desiring and consuming products as well as advertisements. The last section of the paper attempts to map the implications of the consumerist administration of desire and enjoyment on the way the social bond is politically instituted and morally justified in late capitalist societies.