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Theories of consumption have been a part of the field of sociology since its earliest days, dating back, at least implicitly, to the work of Karl Marx in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Sociologists view consumption as central to everyday life, identity and social order. Many sociologists associate it with social class, identity, group membership, age and stratification as it plays a huge part in modernity. Thorstein Veblen's (1899) The Theory of the Leisure Class is generally seen as the first major theoretical work to take consumption as its primary focus. Despite these early roots, research on consumption began in earnest in the second half of the twentieth century in Europe, especially Great Britain. Interest in the topic among mainstream US sociologists was much slower to develop and it is still not a focal concern of many American sociologists. Efforts are currently underway to form a section in the American Sociological Association devoted to the study of consumption.
However, over the last twenty years, sociological research into the area of consumption has burgeoned in cognate fields, particularly in global and cultural studies:
|“||The processes associated with globalization have created hitherto unimaginable opportunities for cultural forms and practices to travel far beyond the indigenous sites and spaces in which they were first conceived and produced. While there have always been cultural movements and flows from one space to another, the intensity and ease of contemporary intersections of the global and the local have forced scholars to look closely at the myriad ways in which culture is consumed – used up, made sense of, embraced, and explored.||”|
- "How Sociologists Study Consumption". About.com Education. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
- James, Paul; Szeman, Imre (2010). Globalization and Culture, Vol. 3: Global-Local Consumption. London: Sage Publications. p. xi.
- Bourdieu, Pierre (1984). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-21277-0.
- James, Paul; Szeman, Imre (2010). Globalization and Culture, Vol. 3: Global-Local Consumption. London: Sage Publications.
- Rey, P; Ritzer, G.(2011) "The Sociology of Consumption", The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Sociology, pp. 444.