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Society, Culture, and Global Consumer Culture

Part 6. International Marketing

  1. Eric J. Arnould

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem06001

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Arnould, E. J. 2010. Society, Culture, and Global Consumer Culture. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 6.

Author Information

  1. University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Consumer culture is a social system in which consumption is dominated by the consumption of commercial products. In consumer culture, the transmission of cultural values, norms, and customary ways of doing things between generations is largely carried out through the exercise of private, personal choice. Just as the consumer was theorized into existence by the economic philosophers of the eighteenth century, and turned into the linchpin of twentieth-century economies by economic policy makers and Madison Avenue advertisers, so the consumer continues to be recreated on the global stage. Even as international marketing capitalizes on the proliferation of “cultural difference,” it also demands that cultural difference be rendered manageable within globally reproducible forms and genres. This has led to the identification of what have been called global structures of common difference in global consumer culture such as market segments of consumer themselves, fast-food outlets, soap operas, beauty pageants, comics, and popular music. The spread of global consumer culture provokes backlash and resistance. Some antiglobal activists call for deconsumption; some dispute specific elements of global value chains such as brands, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and sweatshop labor; some promote ethical consumption; and some promote local brands that are ideologically positioned as explicit competitors to their multinational counterparts.


  • consumer culture;
  • global consumer culture;
  • structures of common difference;
  • brands;
  • consumers;
  • resistance