June 27-30, 2023
Consumer Culture Theory Conference
The 2023 Consumer Culture Theory Conference will be held from Tuesday, June 27 to Friday, June 30, 2023 at AF-borgen, the epicenter of studentlife in the city since 1851, that is located on the beautiful Lund University campus in the city of Lund, Sweden.
Click the icon below to learn more about our theme, Utopia Revisited
CCTC 2023 Conference Theme
What happens after disruptions? Where do we go from there? Is there even a place to go? In the wake of disruptions, unwritten futures present themselves and new dreams are dreamt. Imaginaries are created and revisited and new promises are made. Old hopes are brought back to life again. Given the last decade of despair – highlighted by movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo and manifested in an increasingly urgent climate crisis, a global pandemic, inflation, far-right politics on the rise and, today, war – there are reasons to rethink the foundations of the consumer cultural game we play.
Perhaps we need a new game with completely new rules; a new utopian game! Utopias are built upon dreams about the future that, to paraphrase the 1968-slogan, try to be realistic by means of demanding the impossible.
Given the current state of the world, one could ponder whether dystopia would not be a more apt theme for a CCT conference? Especially so given the pressures that our consumer culture is currently putting on the world. It is, however, impossible to even imagine utopia without the constant presence of the distorted mirror image of dystopia. Especially so given that it is also becoming increasingly clear that one group’s utopia might very well represent another group’s dystopia, and vice versa.
However, to reduce utopia to a fantasy without any connection to reality would be a mistake. More than anything else, utopia can help us to think up unimaginable futures that transcend the boundaries of today.
We cannot think of a better place to contemplate utopia than Sweden. The notion of “Sweden” is molded in the intersection between the grand promises of industrialization and the social-democratic dream of the total welfare state. The utopian fantasy of what Sweden is (or ought to be) combines the dark pessimism of Greta Thunberg with an almost naïve faith in entrepreneurial saviors. Enlightened dreams of the potential of scientific discoveries sit next to fairytales of kings and queens.
Moreover, the CCT-community is a good collective to be in in order to ponder on the role of consumption and consumer society at a time where utopia is called for. Is there a place for consumer society – as we know it – in such a utopian future? Is it even possible to talk about consumption as a meaningful activity anymore, in a world where citizen rights and freedom of speech are under attack? Maybe the very identity of “consumer” is an obsolete reminiscence of a time where the right to think, speak and act freely was taken for granted. What possibly can be written and said at a CCT-conference that will contribute to the kinds of utopias needed in order to write a future that learns from but also transcends the past. How are we to write an impossible future? Well, let us find out.
The conference theme of utopia (and dystopia) is not to be seen as a straitjacket. Rather we want this theme to work as an inspiration for free thought. Possible broad topics for papers, special sessions, focused forums, posters and artistic presentations include, but are not limited to, the following:
Politics: What political utopias (dystopias) are created today and how do they relate to consumption and the market? How are political utopias negotiated in and through consumer cultural processes? What are the ideological foundations of utopias (dystopias) in the marketplace?
Utopia and Dystopia: How are the dialectics between competing and/or complementary utopias and dystopias played out in contemporary consumer culture? How are utopias and dystopias co-opted by the market? How can utopias help change societies for the better in light of rising dystopian ideas?
Market in utopias: How has the market been used historically to form utopias and/or dystopias? How have consumers resisted/embraced these marketization processes?
Utopias through consumption: How have people built and cultivated their own local utopian (dystopian) realms – e.g., gated communities, guerilla gardens, online gaming, nostalgia – through consumption?
Terminal Marketing: How are pessimistic and optimistic approaches envisioned in contemporary marketing and consumer research?
Dreams: How do people dream about alternative futures, such as the dream about market society as a negation in the socialist, totalitarian societies? How do collective dreams take shape and how are they used to guide collective consumer action?
Fictitious utopias: How are utopias (dystopias) imagined and reproduced through fiction, such as sci-fi literature, pop culture, video games, cosplay?
Normative theory: What is the role of critical normativity, public intellectuals, and critical debates for the creation and dissemination of utopian (dystopian) ideas?
Writing futures: How do we write about utopian (dystopian) futures? What are the sentiments related to futures of utopias (dystopias) in consumer society?
Utopian CCT: How do we dream about our own role in shaping a utopian (dystopian) future? What role do we envision that we - as an academic field, through our intellectual work, academic milieus, conversations, writing, etcetera - can play in this endeavor?