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  • Author or Editor: Ben Fine x
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Critics of consumption studies contend that it has become conceived as a broad catch-all for too diverse a range of phenomena, forcing these categorically into questionable commonalities around the consumer/consumed without regard to conceptual clarity and distinctions. The System of Provision (SoP) approach can only wrongly be considered as guilty of this fault. Since first devised some 30 years ago to address the study of consumption, its scope has broadened to cover a range of sectors including consumer durables, food, clothing, housing, transport, water and health. But the approach does not apply the idea of consumption to everything willy-nilly, being designed to address the concern that the drivers of consumption are irreducibly contextual. In contrast to other consumption perspectives, for the SoP approach, the complexity and specificity of what is being consumed is the starting point for its analytical framework. Informed by insights from across the social sciences, the approach draws on a theoretically informed but inductive framework, open to different research methods. The approach incorporates the structures, relations, processes and agencies underpinning the chain of activities linking production to consumption, inevitably engaging with features of contemporary capitalism, such as neoliberalism underpinned by financialisation. With attention to material cultures, the SoP approach differentiates meanings of consumption across diverse applications. While engaging grand narratives, the SoP approach is attuned to the contextual specificity of what is consumed, where, when and by whom. Thus, the approach has wide-ranging applicability precisely because it incorporates differentiation in the social construction and construal of the consumed and the consumer.

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