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Asia through Consumption


Admission requirements

Only for students of MA programme in Asian Studies. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to one of the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact their co-ordinator of studies.


Mass availability of consumer goods has had the most significant impact upon the way of life of ordinary people during the last hundred years. No aspect of daily life has been left untouched by the emergence of the consumer society. It has not only satisfied our needs, and created new ones, but also in many ways affected the ways we view the world and our position in it. This course will explore the historical transformation of consumption and its growing impact on society, with particular reference to Asia.

Course objectives

This course aims to introduce students to the key theoretical and conceptual literature on consumer society and to familiarize them with the ways to apply this literature to the study of Asian societies in both historical and contemporary contexts. We will explore, among other topics, the place of consumption (of both material objects and experiences) within modernity and post-modernity.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course load

Total course load for this course is 280 hours
Hours spent on attending seminars = 28 hours
Time for studying the compulsory literature and preparing discussion questions = 112 hours
Time for completing assignments (analytic element = 36 hours + research element = 104 hours) = 140 hours

Assessment method

  • Participation element (attendance, assignments) 40%

  • Analytic element (topic description / rationale) 10%

  • Research element (research paper of 4000 words) 50%


Participation element does not offer a resit opportunity. Analytical element can be re-submitted by submitting an additional assignment (to be determined by the instructor). Research element consists of two deadlines, the first one followed by an extensive feedback.


Blackboard will be used extensively in this course.

Reading list

Main textbook (purchase recommended): Robert Bocock, Consumption. London: Routledge, 1993.

Additional readings will be made available for download through the University Library, or will be on reserve in the East Asia Library.


Enroll via Usis


Mw. Prof. Dr. K.J. Cwiertka


In order to prepare for the first session, please sign-up for this course on Blackboard, download the syllabus and follow the instructions.