To bring together scholars who explain historical phenomena using the methods of the social sciences

Material and Consumer Culture

Products, environments, circuits and people

Our focus in this network is on the production and consumption of material goods, and the systems of exchange, knowledge and meaning that link these together. We are concerned with the materiality of objects, technologies and environments, and the ways in which this creates discourses and impacts upon people and space. This is closely tied to an interest in the social and cultural frameworks within which these material objects circulate and acquire or generate meaning.


Christine Fertig
University of Muenster, Germany
Jon Stobart
Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Ilja van Damme
University of Antwerp, Belgium

Call for papers: “Materiality, Motivation and Meaning”

Consumption brings together goods, people and ideas. The ways in which these combine vary across space and time, responding to and moulding local, national and global economics and cultures. Together, they shape behaviour (from recreation to recycling), make places (from homes to hypermarkets to holiday destinations), and construct identities (from collector or curator to Macaroni or Mod).

As a network, we wish to reflect upon these ideas at the 2018 conference. We welcome submissions on any subject linked to Material and Consumer Culture, but particularly invite papers or panels that explore the theme of Materiality, Motivation and Meaning, for example under the following headings:

  • Spaces of consumption: domestic, commercial, leisure and virtual
  • Objects as agents: the material turn, its meanings and value
  • Politicising consumption: campaigns, boycotts and ethical consumption
  • Making meaning: design and production; advertising and the media
  • Objects of desire: the role of fashion and taste, pleasure and utility
  • Consumer identities: connoisseurs, housewives and fashion-victims

We would also encourage submissions that take an inter-disciplinary approach and/or those which seek to draw national and international comparisons.

Proposals for individual papers or panels (comprising four speakers, a discussant and a chair) should be submitted via the ESSHC website by 1 May 2017 at the latest. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss panel proposals in advance of formal submission.