Young Women and Consumer Culture

McRobbie, Angela. 2008. Young Women and Consumer Culture. Cultural Studies, 22(5), pp. 531-550. [Article]

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This article is presented as an intervention in the field of feminist media and cultural studies with particular reference to consumer culture. It is concerned with the seeming evasion of critique which can be detected in a number of recent feminist responses to the way in which modalities of ‘popular feminism’ have found themselves incorporated into women's genres of television, such as, in particular, the US series Sex in the City. This usage or instrumentalization of feminism (in its most conventionally liberal feminist guise) also provides corporate culture with the means of presenting itself to young women as their ally and even champion of ‘girls’ while at the same time earning seeming approval for adopting the mantle of social responsibility, which makes the concept of popular feminism more problematic than it first appeared. Such appropriation of popular feminist discourse by the commercial domain prompts a self-critique on the part of the author alongside an analysis of recent approaches toward consumer culture in cultural studies. The article continues by presenting a schematic account of how the commercial domain increasingly supplants state and public sector institutions in the intensity and dedication of its address to girls and young women. Whilst some may argue that the intersection of youthful femininity and the commercial sphere is not a new phenomenon, what is being explored here is the connection between this intensification of attention and the logic of current neo-liberal economic rationalities. The argument is, therefore, that it is by these means including the instrumentalization of a specific modality of ‘feminism’ that there emerges into existence a neo-liberal culture, with global aspirations, which has as its ideal subject the category of ‘girl’.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


September 2008Published

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Date Deposited:

17 Oct 2011 14:07

Last Modified:

12 Jul 2023 09:09

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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