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Teaching about Consumption: The "Not Buying It" Project

Liz Grauerholz and Anne Bubriski-McKenzie
Teaching Sociology
Vol. 40, No. 4 (OCTOBER 2012), pp. 332-348
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41725517
Page Count: 17
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Abstract

This study presents an experiential exercise designed to heighten students' awareness of overconsumption in the United States and allow them to see how their own consumption habits are linked to larger social factors. Students engaged in the "Not Buying It" project—which involved refraining from purchasing all but essentials for a set number of days—as part of a broader lesson on consumerism. Qualitative and quantitative data, gathered from students enrolled in three sections of Introductory Sociology, suggest that the exercise was effective in enhancing students' sociological imaginations by helping students see how their own consumption habits are shaped by larger social forces and how they, along with most Americans, tend toward overconsumption. To a more limited extent, it may help enhance cognitive understanding of consumption. Teaching about consumption in general, and the Not Buying It project in particular, offers instructors an excellent pedagogical means by which students can acquire a sociological imagination, reinforces key sociological principles, and links to broader goals within the discipline.

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