3rd Dec 2014 5:00pm-7:00pm

Grand Parade


Dr Joanne Hollows (Independent Scholar) 

Critics such as Mica Nava and Lydia Martens have observed that there is a ‘conventional’ assumption that feminism has a hostile relationship to consumer culture, an assumption which has limited opportunities to explore the potential of consumer culture and consumption practices as a site for feminist politics. This has also resulted in what Jo Littler calls a ‘lack of connection’ between feminist scholarship and the field of consumption studies. This paper comes out of a larger project which aims to create a dialogue between feminism and consumption, partly by seeking to uncover a range of types of feminist politics of consumption in feminism’s past.

Drawing on one strand of this research, this paper focuses on the ways in which socialist feminists in the UK used consumer activism to respond to the impact of rising prices on women in the 1970s. While these feminists were frequently critical of consumer culture, they saw consumption practices as a means of challenging the ways in which consumer culture operated. In particular, I focus on the Lincoln Estate Food Coop organized by the libertarian Marxist group East London Big Flame. I demonstrate how the Coop created a space to ‘open up a range of everyday practices to strategic “ethical” conduct.’ (Barnett et al 2010) and connect feminist ideas to ‘ordinary’ ethics.

Joanne Hollows is a freelance researcher and writer. Her books include Feminism, Femininity and Popular Culture(2000), Domestic Cultures (2008) and the co-authored Food and Cultural Studies (2004). Current work focuses on feminism and consumer culture, and on the cultural politics of food media. She is also writing a book on Media Studies for the Teach Yourself series.