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The Troubling Equivalence of Citizen and Consumer
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 608, Politics, Social Networks, and the History of Mass Communications Research: Rereading Personal Influence (Nov., 2006), pp. 193-204
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. in association with the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25097861
Page Count: 12
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As Todd Gitlin observed in his 1978 critique of Personal Influence, Elihu Katz and Paul Lazarsfeld (1955) in that work treated consumer choices and political choices at the voting booth as methodologically equivalent. Many critics since have identified this purported equivalence as a flaw in American social science that reduces politics to consumer behavior. But is it a flaw? This article contends that consumer choices can be and have often been political; that political choices can be and often have been consumer-like; and that the distinction between citizen and consumer, intended to uphold the superiority of the citizen's role, in fact may itself be damaging to public life. It calls for a reconsideration of what the differences between the worlds of politics and consumption really are.
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science © 2006 American Academy of Political and Social Science