Consumer resistance in a world of advertising clutter: The case of Adbusters



The pervasive influence of advertising and consumer culture is examined in relation to a postmodern condition marked by increased speed, fragmentation, and the decentering of the subject. This condition often prompts the consumer to develop ad-avoidance strategies that protect his/her psychic space by filtering out excess advertising clutter (which also colonizes the public and discursive space of consumer culture). The struggle for these cultural spaces resembles a war of position between the ideology of consumerism and its opponents, who attempt to cultivate alternative worldviews toward consumerism. Although some perspectives see consumption as a means for self-expression and the fashioning of multiple identities, this position valorizes consumption practices irrespective of their environmental and social impact. An evaluation of the antiadvertising magazine Adbusters illustrates the obstacles inherent in launching challenges to consumerism, and the difficulty of resisting consumerism given advertising's control over cultural spaces. Marketers have converted resistance efforts from some of consumption's most ardent critics into market segments by targeting certain goods and services toward them. © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.