Consumption and theories of practice

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This article considers the potential of a revival of interest in theories of practice for the study of consumption. It presents an abridged account of the basic precepts of a theory of practice and extracts some broad principles for its application to the analysis of final consumption. The basic assumption is that consumption occurs as items are appropriated in the course of engaging in particular practices and that being a competent practitioner requires appropriation of the requisite services, possession of appropriate tools, and devotion of a suitable level of attention to the conduct of the practice. Such a view stresses the routine, collective and conventional nature of much consumption but also emphasizes that practices are internally differentiated and dynamic. Distinctive features of the account include its understanding of the way wants emanate from practices, of the processes whereby practices emerge, develop and change, of the consequences of extensive personal involvements in many practices, and of the manner of recruitment to practices. The article concludes with discussion of some theoretical, substantive and methodological implications. Copyright © 2005 SAGE Publications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-153
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Consumption
  • Practices
  • Social differentiation
  • Theories of practice


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