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Promise and trouble, desire and critique : shopping as a site of learning about globalization, identity… Jubas, Kaela 2008

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PROMISE AND TROUBLE, DESIRE AND CRITIQUE: SHOPPING AS A SITE OF LEARNING ABOUT GLOBALIZATION, IDENTITY AND THE POTENTIAL FOR CHANGE by Kaela Jubas B.A., York University, 1984 M.E.S., York University, 1990 M.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 2004  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Educational Studies)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) November, 2008 © Kaela Jubas, 2008  ABSTRACT Adult educators talk frequently about learning which occurs during daily living; however, relatively few explore the breadth and depth of such learning. I contend that shopping, as it is commonly understood and practised in Western societies, is a site of everyday learning. Among people concerned about globalization, this learning connects shopping to the politics of consumption, identity and resistance. Central to this inquiry are Antonio Gramsci's (1971) concepts of hegemony, ideology, common sense and dialectic. These are useful in understanding the irresolvable tensions between the political, economic and cultural arenas of social life. Informed by critical, feminist and critical race scholarship, I proceed to conceptualize adult learning as “incidental” (Foley, 1999, 2001) and holistic. I then conceptualize “consumercitizenship.” Social relations of gender, race and class are central in the construction of identity which influences experiences and understandings of consumption and citizenship in the context of Canadian society and global development. My over-arching methodology, which I call “case study bricolage,” incorporates qualitative case study methods of interviews, focus groups and participant observation with 32 self-identified “radical shoppers” in Vancouver, British Columbia. As well, I employ cultural studies' intertextuality, and include an analysis of popular fiction to further expose discourses of shopping, consumption and consumerism. Drawing on Laurel Richardson's (2000) “crystallization,” I use various analytical “facets” to respond to three questions about shopping-as-learning: What do participants learn to do? Who do participants learn to be? How do participants learn to make change? Critical media literacy theory illuminates the function of popular culture in constructing a discursive web which shoppers navigate. Through shopping, participants learn how to learn and to conduct research, and how to develop a shopping-related values system, literacy and geography. Benedict Anderson's (1991) concept of “imagined community” helps explicate how participants' affiliations with shopping-related movements provide a sense of purpose and belonging. Finally, Jo Littler's (2005) notions of “narcissistic” and “relational” reflexivity clarify that different processes of reflexivity lead to different perspectives on societal change. This inquiry has implications for research and theorizing in adult learning, and the practice of critical adult education.  ii  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract......................................................................................................................................................ii Table of Contents......................................................................................................................................iii List of Tables..............................................................................................................................................v List of Figures...........................................................................................................................................vi Preface: A Note on Reading this Document...........................................................................................vii Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................................viii Chapter One In the Beginning….....................................................................................................................................1 Breaking into the Ivory Tower................................................................................................................9 Research Purpose and Questions..........................................................................................................33 Metaphorically Speaking......................................................................................................................39 Outline of this Dissertation...................................................................................................................43 Chapter Two Under the Microscope: Conceptual Map...............................................................................................47 Coarse Focus: Gramscian Theory and Concepts...................................................................................49 Fine Focus: Holistic Incidental Adult Learning....................................................................................57 The Object on the Stage: Shopping as Learning in and about Contemporary Globalization.........................................................65 Chapter Three Snapping the Picture: Envisioning the Research Project....................................................................123 Ontological Lens.................................................................................................................................123 Epistemological Prism........................................................................................................................125 Releasing the Shutter: Research Methodology...................................................................................133 Aperture, Speed and Focus: The Final Adjustments...........................................................................145 Chapter Four Choreography, Improvisation and Stars of the Show: Research Steps and Participants.................157 Step 1: Ethics Approval......................................................................................................................159 Step 2: Participant Recruitment..........................................................................................................165 Steps 3 and 4: Interviews and Accompanied Shopping Trips..............................................................171 Step 5: Focus Groups..........................................................................................................................177 Step 6: Sampling Cultural Texts.........................................................................................................181 Step 7: Incorporating Personal Reflection..........................................................................................183 Step 8: Analysis..................................................................................................................................185 Step 9: Writing up/Writing as the Inquiry...........................................................................................191 Introduction to the Participants...........................................................................................................193 Chapter Five Novel Consumption: Going Shopping and Learning with Fictional Characters..............................199 Narrative 1: Hegemonic Consumerism...............................................................................................207 Narrative 2: Reasonable Balance........................................................................................................211 Narrative 3: Cynicism.........................................................................................................................219 Narrative 4: Committed Resistance....................................................................................................225 Summary............................................................................................................................................231 Chapter Six The Disciplines of Shopping: What Participants Learn to Do............................................................237 Learning to Learn...............................................................................................................................239 Conducting Research..........................................................................................................................255 Weighing Value(s)...............................................................................................................................259 Developing Literacy...........................................................................................................................279 Constructing a Shopper's Geography..................................................................................................285 Summary............................................................................................................................................301  iii  Chapter Seven Growing up with, Growing into, Growing out of: Who Participants Learn to Be ..............303 A Community of “Good” Shoppers............................................................................................307 The Shopper as a Social Character..............................................................................................327 Summary.....................................................................................................................................353 Chapter Eight At the Root of It All: How Participants Learn to Make Change...........................................357 Forms of Reflexivity...................................................................................................................357 Radical: What's in a Name?........................................................................................................363 Learning to Change Shopping, Shopping to Make Change.........................................................387 Buying in or Selling Out: Concluding Thoughts.........................................................................421 Chapter Nine Somewhere around the Middle................................................................................................425 Conceptualizing Learning: Holistic Learning in Everyday Life..................................................429 Educating Critical Consumer-citizens.........................................................................................433 Understanding and Enacting Change..........................................................................................441 Protecting Consumer-citizens.....................................................................................................443 Exploring Globalization..............................................................................................................445 Closing Thoughts........................................................................................................................449 References..................................................................................................................................450 Appendix A: Interludes............................................................................................................463 Interlude 1: Images of Promise and Desire.................................................................................463 Interlude 2: Images of Trouble and Critique...............................................................................464 Interlude 3: Shopping for a Dissertation.....................................................................................465 Interlude 4: A PhD Student, her Books, and her Search for a Bookcase.....................................466 Interlude 5: My Dinner at Moyo’s...............................................................................................467 Interlude 6: Radical Accidents....................................................................................................468 Interlude 7: Rumours and Queues...............................................................................................469 Appendix B: UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board Certificate of Approval.................470  iv  LIST OF TABLES Table 4.1a Table 4.1b Table 4.1c Table 4.2 Table 4.3a Table 4.3b  Code Book.......................................................................................................................184 Code Book (continued)....................................................................................................186 Code Book (continued)....................................................................................................188 Summary of Participation.................................................................................................192 Participants' Social Characteristics...................................................................................194 Participants' Social Characteristics (continued)................................................................196  v  LIST OF FIGURES Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2 Figure 2.3 Figure 2.4 Figure 3.1 Figure 3.2 Figure 4.1a Figure 4.1b Figure 4.2a Figure 4.2b Figure 4.3 Figure 4.4 Figure 4.5 Figure 4.6 Figure 4.7 Figure 6.1 Figure 6.2 Figure 6.3 Figure 7.1 Figure 7.2 Figure A1 Figure A2 Figure A3 Figure A4 Figure A5 Figure A6 Figure A7  Optical microscope..................................................................................................46 Conceptual map.......................................................................................................48 “Young Girl-Old Woman” Illusion...........................................................................50 Air Canada Multi-trip Flight Passes.........................................................................94 Single lens reflex camera.......................................................................................122 M.C. Escher, “Hand with Reflecting Sphere”........................................................148 Consent Form.........................................................................................................158 Consent Form (continued)......................................................................................160 Permission for In-store Observations.....................................................................162 Permission for In-store Observations (continued)..................................................164 Consent to Use Photographs..................................................................................164 UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board Certificate of Approval................................................................................................................166 Participant Recruitment Flyer................................................................................168 Interview Schedule.................................................................................................170 Focus Group Outline..............................................................................................176 James' anodized aluminum cutlery, focus group, May 10, 2007............................264 What would Jesus buy? Graffiti on Fort Street, Victoria, March 16, 2007......................................................................................................268 Certified transitional grapes, shopping trip, April 29, 2007....................................284 Therèse's compact disc, focus group, May 10, 2007..............................................314 Hand bag with image of Nelson Mandela, on display in Cape Town, December 2007......................................................................................................368 Toilet paper with a message...................................................................................463 Tomato Man(ifesto), Trout Lake Community Market, Vancouver.........................463 Syn Bar & Grill, Victoria, British Columbia..........................................................463 A vinegar for all occasions.....................................................................................463 Graffiti outside the Central Train Station, Sydney, Australia, December 2005......................................................................................................464 Sign at the community market, Airlie Beach, Australia, December 2005...............464 Church sign, Dublin, Ireland, June 2007................................................................464  vi  PREFACE: A NOTE ON READING THIS DOCUMENT This dissertation was meant to be printed double-sided. If you are reading a single-sided copy of this text or an electronic copy of it, reading it might take an especially strong imagination. Here is a bit of an explanation to help with that process. Odd numbered pages contain the dissertation’s narrative. Even numbered pages contain excerpts and images from academic and popular publications, news media, websites and photographs to help extend or illustrate a point being made in the narrative. To signal when I think it is most helpful to look for a corresponding image or excerpt, I’ve inserted this icon in parentheses: . On pages where there is more than one “,” I’ve separated the corresponding excerpts or images with a fancy line. This is meant to illustrate a conceptual and methodological point about the complications of determining what and who is inside and outside a text or a group. These complications are central to my thesis, to the field of adult education and to developments in academic research. D'Arcy Martin's (1994) doctoral dissertation and Patti Lather and Chris Smithies' (1997) book Troubling the Angels: Women Living with HIV/AIDS were helpful in my development of this format. Although I otherwise do not draw on these works, I include them in my References. In order to get around the stipulation that all pages contain text (beyond a page number), I have inserted the clause “This page intentionally left blank” on even numbered pages with no other text or image. At times, I refer to retail corporations. When these references are within my own narrative, I insert the designation for trademark or registered trademark. Although I have attempted to convey the status of a corporate trademark, this can be difficult to do and I apologize if I have not accurately represented it. When corporate names are included in excerpts from my data or from other texts, I do not insert designations which were absent in the original conversations or writings. I have not inserted such designations to accompany non-profit organizations, unless their marketing materials clearly use them. Finally, I draw your attention to Appendix A entitled “Interludes.” I intend for these to be inserted in between certain chapters, as both interruptions and bridges. I have noted the suggested points of insertion for each Interlude to make it easier for you, the reader, should you decide to incorporate them into your reading of this dissertation.  vii  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The cover page of this dissertation creates an illusion. It indicates that this text was written entirely by me. But that is not true. There are two individuals who have been central to this project from day one. First in my life and, therefore, in these acknowledgements is my partner, Karen Caithness. While I was still completing my MEd, it was Karen who, when I floated the idea of applying for a PhD, immediately said, “I think you've found your niche.” Despite the chance that I would become her financial dependent for a while, Karen's support was whole-hearted and immediate. It also never wavered. Karen eagerly agreed to act as a sort of one-person shadow committee. She carefully read drafts of presentations, papers and chapters, and reviewed the tools that I developed for my study. After I started to clip media materials, it didn't take long for Karen to join in. Some days I would arrive home and find a fabulous addition for my collection on my desk. We tried to save time for play and travel and waterfront strolls, but our conversations often revolved around a concept that I was struggling with or the latest story related to shopping. I count Karen among the very few non-academics I know who can and will talk to me about globalization and Gramsci. I know that no student can complete a PhD program without the love and support of others, but I'm not sure that I could have done that without the particular and special love and support you offered me, Karen. I dedicate this dissertation to you. Shauna Butterwick has worked with me since 2003, when I was completing my MEd and she hired me as her Research Assistant. Four and a half years later, my employment with her ended, but we were still working together as she had become by PhD supervisor. As a supervisor, Shauna has three unique gifts that she shares with all students: patience, curiosity and generosity of time. It was during one of our many afterhours talks about nothing-in-particular when Shauna recognized the potential for me to study shopping as a site of learning. Shauna has opened doors for me, mentored me, and, even in my moments of frustration and confusion, greeted me with encouragement. As important as the role of supervisor is, Shauna has been much more than that: She has invited me to travel the world with her and to collaborate on articles and presentations. From health food shops to duty free stores, we have even shopped together. No student can complete a PhD without a supervisor, but I'm not sure that I would have wanted to do this without your particular and special support, Shauna. viii  I would also like to thank my other two committee members. I invited Sunera Thobani onto my committee because of her expertise in feminist critical race studies. I am grateful for her commitment to me and my project, which was made all the more interesting and insightful because of her intellectual challenges and steady contributions. I invited Jennifer Sandlin onto my committee because she is one of the few people in the field of adult education researching shopping. From the day we met at an AERC conference, she has been excited about my work. Her own work in this area has been invaluable, and her upbeat energy hugely appreciated. My thanks also go to the remaining members of my examination committee. The careful reading of my thesis by the external examiners, Pierre Walter and Theresa Rogers from UBC and Christine Jarvis from the University of Huddersfield, and their probing questions and feedback helped me put the finishing touches on this work. In chairing my examination, Thomas Kemple balanced attention to formalities, intellectual engagement and good humour. Of course, I thank the participants for their time and thoughtful reflection. Tangibly, I was able to offer them only a cup of coffee and a snack during interviews and focus groups. Many of them thanked me for an opportunity to talk about the serious along with the fun side of shopping. I'm glad that I could give them a chance to explore and share their own interests, concerns and opinions, although it seems to me that I got much more than I gave in our exchanges. Over the four years that I have spent in this program, I have shared good food, good wine, good coffee and questionable accordion playing – but always delivered with gusto and love. I thank friends and family for helping me keep my life as close to balanced as possible, and for humouring me when I quizzed them about shopping. Special thanks go to my parents, Gilda and Donny, for happily agreeing to have their experiences included in this thesis. The encouragement of my Aunt Gilda Freeman in Toronto, who has been an unabashed cheerleader for me, magically continued to reach me all the way in Vancouver. Finally, I thank the students, faculty and staff in Educational Studies, as well as people who attended my presentations or reviewed my manuscripts. Constructive feedback has reminded me to approach questions with an open mind and a critical eye. In particular, I thank Thomas Sork, the first person I met in the department. Throughout my six years here, Tom has helped me take the next step, be that in studies, publishing or employment. I remember one conversation that we had: I was concerned about lacking a single area of specialization. What I saw as a deficit Tom reframed as the asset of versatility. He, along with so many others, has helped me develop my capacity and my confidence as a student, a researcher and a teacher.  ix  Culture is ordinary: that is the first fact. Every human society has its own shape, its purposes, its own meanings. Every human society expresses these, in institutions, and in arts and learning. The making of a society is the finding of common meanings and directions, and its growth is an active debate and amendment, under the pressures of experience, contact, and discovery, writing themselves into the land. The growing society is there, yet it is also made and remade in every individual mind. The making of a mind is, first, the slow learning of shapes, purposes, and meanings, so that work, observation and communication are possible. Then, second, but equal in importance, is the testing of these in experience, the making of new observations, comparisons, and meanings. A culture has two aspects: the known meanings and directions, which its members are trained to; the new observations and meanings, which are offered and tested. These are the ordinary processes of human societies and human minds, and we see through them the nature of a culture: that it is always both traditional and creative; that it is both the most ordinary common meanings and the finest individual meanings. We use the word culture in these two senses: to mean a whole way of life – the common meanings; to mean the arts and learning – the special processes of discovery and creative effort. – Raymond Williams (1993), “Culture is Ordinary, p. 90 While I am sympathetic to attempts to restore dignity to the everyday practices that, in the past, have been equated with false consciousness by elite academics, I am reluctant to elevate these activities to guerrilla warfare in a new politics of consumption. At a time when even the Left has embraced the celebration of consumption as a form of resistance by the subordinated, it seems appropriate to explore the popular pleasures of consumption as a serious arena of critical feminist analysis. – Dawn Currie (1999), Girl Talk: Adolescent Magazines and Their Readers, p. 6  [Insert Interlude 1 here.] x  CHAPTER ONE IN THE BEGINNING…  S  hopping is an important part of my life. Thinking back on when and how it became so integral to my identity, I see in my mind’s eye the first material thing that I remember  wanting desperately. Perhaps six or seven years old at the time, I convinced my mother that I had to have an apricot-coloured lacy dress with a sash tied in a bow around the back to wear to my cousin’s bar mitzvah, the first formal event to which I’d been invited. Never a “girly girl,” and not remotely interested in fashion until my early adult years, I still wonder at my insistence on that particular item. Fast forwarding to my own bat mitzvah several years later, I now recognize that day as pivotal in bringing consumption together with citizenship in my own life. According to Jewish culture, the bar/bat mitzvah marks the transition from childhood to adulthood, the point at which responsibilities are assumed and rights are accorded – the very hallmarks of citizenship. PostSecond World War British sociologist T. H. Marshall (1992) defines citizenship as a status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is endowed. There is no universal principle that determines what those rights and duties shall be, but societies in which citizenship is a developing institution create an image of an ideal citizenship against which achievement can be measured and towards which aspiration can be directed. (p. 18)  Feminist, postcolonial and other critical scholars note that citizenship is a much trickier concept than Marshall suggests, complicated by social divisions and competing interests. The “‘vocabularies of citizenship’ and their meanings vary according to social, political and cultural context and reflect historical legacies” (Lister, 2003, p. 3), and citizenship becomes an “essentially contested concept” (p. 14). Despite the importance of local and temporal context, certain types of relations seem amazingly, persistently important in differentiating and categorizing groups of citizens. Within Judaism, the person becoming bar/bat mitzvah carries out certain rituals for the first time, becoming a full participant in the congregation. In the Conservative synagogue where I celebrated my bat mitzvah, girls were allowed to conduct these rituals only on that day; in this way, we girls were unlike boys who could return to synagogue and continue to engage in those rituals. This is an example of how gender is evident in the structuring of social relations, within and beyond Jewish communities, and distinguishes some citizens from others as established rules and practices continue to favour boys and men over girls and women.  1  [W]omen are not given any formal role in the construction of the state; they are instead seen as keeper and cultivators of it. This implies a certain responsibility which is placed upon women to reproduce and cultivate in democratic subjects those dominant cultural values that are endorsed by those who dominate the political machinery (and indeed political memory) of the state. This ‘reproductive’ process leads to a cultural privileging that exalts not only the state’s position on national identity but also women’s position within it. In so doing, nationalist rhetoric not only privileges the dominance of male super-ordinance in state hierarchies but also represses, both epistemically and politically, the many cultural and national understandings that reside on the margins of the state. This legitimised practice of privileging also means that women who oppose or resist the dominant view of culture and nationhood are viewed as ‘non-persons’ or ‘noncitizens’. The non-citizen ultimately comes to signify difference. – Jo-Anne Dillabough and Madeleine Arnot (2000), “Feminist Political Frameworks” p. 29 The urge forward along the path thus plotted is an urge towards a fuller measure of equality, an enrichment of the stuff of which the status is made and an increase in the number of those on whom the status is bestowed. Social class, on the other hand, is a system of inequality. And it too, like citizenship, can be based on a set of ideals, beliefs and values. It is therefore reasonable to expect that the impact of citizenship on social class should take the form of a conflict between opposing principles. – T. H. Marshall (1992), “Citizenship and Social Class,” p. 18 Whiteness carries privileges; non-whiteness carries disadvantages. Despite differences in culture and history, all people of colour share one thing – they are racialised on the basis of skin colour, devalued as persons, and their histories and cultures are distorted and stigmatized. – Vanaja Dhruvarajan (2000), “People of Colour and National Identity in Canada,” p. 157  2  In my European Jewish-Canadian community, part of the acknowledgement of the bar/bat mitzvah comes through presents. For people who choose to give a monetary gift, there is even a practice to help determine the amount: Cheques are often made out in multiples $18, representing the numerical equivalent of the word “chai,” the Hebrew word for life. Not surprisingly, the wealthier the family and the family’s acquaintances, the larger the cheques and the more valuable the other gifts tend to be. Class is a second way in which relations are structured so that citizens are differentiated from one another. Even Marshall (1992) recognizes the extent to which capitalism is accompanied by class-based barriers to equality in societies where everyone has the “right” to almost everything – from food to housing to transit to toothpaste – as long as she or he has the means to pay for it. Still other characteristics which are defined in order to divide citizens might have been less obvious to me on the day of my bat mitzvah, but are persistently evident across societies and cultures; they include race, ethnicity, (dis)ability and sexuality. As these divisions are manifest, struggles ensue. () Whether by design or by accident, on the day of my bat mitzvah, shopping and consumption came together with citizenship in my social identity. On the day that I became bat mitzvah, for the first time in my life, I had enough money to make what were, to a twelve-yearold girl from an aspiring-to-middle-class family, significant material decisions. With the funds in my bank account, I made my own consumer decisions. (Today, I understand my choice of a stereo, but my choice of an orange vinyl bean bag chair mystifies me only slightly less than the apricot dress.) Becoming a full-fledged citizen was tied to becoming a full-fledged consumer. As Zukin (2005) notes, across the Global North,1 one of the first ways that young people assert their own identities, separate from their parents’, is through shopping and consumption: In our society, teenagers begin to break free to their parents when they start to shop for themselves….Chatting with friends, handling both goods and money, dealing with the outside world without parents to run interference: teenagers’ shopping experiences are both exhilarating and scary, centered only on themselves, their friends, and the few stores where they can afford to go….We learn to be adults by learning to shop. (p. 30)  Now as frequently conflated as the ideologies of consumerism2 and neoliberalism, consumption and citizenship are portrayed as inter-changeable sets of rights and responsibilities. As I trace in 1  Aiming for both consistency and conciseness in this thesis, I generally use “Western” to refer to postEnlightenment culture or to talk about societies in the context of that cultural ideal. When talking about contemporary geo-political issues and divides, I use “Global North” to refer to so-called “Western,” “developed” or industrialized countries and regions, and “Global South” to refer to so-called “Third World” or “developing” countries and regions. 2 Consumerism is used to refer to consumer rights movements and organizations, as well as an ideology which informs cultural, political and economic practice and structure (see Gabriel & Lang, 1995). I use consumerism in this ideological sense, in distinction to what I refer to as the consumer rights movement. 3  Tomorrow, both City Hall and the New York Stock Exchange – two powerful symbols of America, one of freedom, the other of free enterprise – will be open for business. – Statement made by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in “Mayor Giuliani Announces Details on Further Opening of Lower Manhattan for Monday, September 17, 2001” (September 16, 2001) When they struck, they wanted to create an atmosphere of fear. And one of the great goals of this nation’s war is to restore public confidence in the airline industry. It’s to tell the traveling public: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America’s great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed. – Statement made by President George W. Bush in “At O’Hare, President Says ‘Get on Board’” (September 27, 2001) We cannot let our way of life be compromised by acts of terrorism. I encourage you to take advantage of all the things that make our City the Capital of the World. New York’s restaurants, theaters, stores, and museums are all open for business, and there’s never been a better time to participate in the cultural and economic life of our City. And if you are traveling, take a plane with the confidence that our skies are safe. If you have friends or family who were planning on coming to New York City in the near future, tell them to come now. Not only will they have a great time at our world-renowned restaurants, shops, museums, ballparks, and theaters, but they will be making an important statement that terrorists cannot stop us from being the land of the free and the home of the brave. – Statement made by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in “Moving Forward with Courage” (October 10, 2001)  4  the following chapters, consumption and citizenship have a long and inter-twined history in Western societies; however, they seem to have become especially fused and confused over the past two decades. Following 9/11, the comments of President Bush and Mayor Giuliani linking the Stock Exchange to City Hall, Disney World to the American way of life, had what Antonio Gramsci (1971) refers to as an obvious, “common sense” resonance with American consumercitizens. () Moreover, consumption has increasingly become a way of talking about shopping and purchasing, rather than its older meanings of eating and using. Having grown up in a kosher household, I learned from an early age to think about what was in the food that I ate, about what I consumed in that most literal sense. Back then, I read labels to check for lard, beef tallow, gelatine, rennet, whey powder and other potentially problematic ingredients. Today, I still read food labels, but now I am more likely to look for fair trade and certified organic logos, locally grown designations, or ingredients which do not include hydrogenated fats. I also read manufacturers’ labels on clothes and electronics and household furnishings and toiletries and….My traditional Jewish upbringing taught me to be mindful of consumption; somewhere along the line, I learned that there is more to consumption than the centuries-old guidelines of kashrut address. In large part, changes in my personal shopping and consumption practices have been accompanied by larger social, economic and political changes, and changes in my own affiliations by which I am identified. From my birth and early years in Canada’s post-Second World War social democracy of the 1960s and early 1970s, to the increasingly neoliberal democracy of contemporary globalization, consumption and citizenship have been tied together in constant, yet changing, ways. The function of government policies – including war – as economic drivers can be juxtaposed with “a kinder but not always more efficient means of increasing demands for goods [which] has transferred the responsibility from government’s hands to those of consumers” (Zukin, 2005, p. 15), evident in the closing decades of the twentieth century. This has occurred in the Global North, alongside an enforced spread of capitalism across developing and previously communist states (see, for example, Bello, 2002; Bocock, 1993; Kiely, 2005). The claims that this structural shift threatens the viability of smallscale producers and the environmental sustainability, and is especially devastating for producers and consumers in developing countries (Bocock, 1993; Shiva, 2005) ring true to me, as I notice local stores close and battles over Wal-Mart® ensue.  5  I am scared and angry about our world. About Walmart – the prices are not equivalent to the USA, relevant [sic] to wages and costs of living. They just can’t get the costs that cheap, when almost everything is produced here. I’ve seen two different stores now – the one which I went into had 4 floors, very department store/Woolworth feeling, not the sprawling monsters that would be in the States. The same “friendly Walmart greeters” exist, at every flat escalator, though they weren’t old people, but young college looking kids. Disappointingly, I did not run into many “local products” I had heard Walmart aims depending on location [sic], like frog legs or incense. Most products were very western. I also went into Carrefours, a French superstore very similar to Walmart. Same deal, multi-floors, very new and clean (as most things in Kunming currently are). Ironically, large superstores like these may actually find it harder to compete, pricewise, because they’re trying to sell to the very same population whose workforce they exploit. Unlike in the States, I don’t necessarily see them putting out small and local businesses based strictly on price (unless they find an even cheaper place to move their production to). Other factors, I’m not so sure – Walmart running the classy, vogue driven salespath? Hard to imagine, but hard to ignore. Some locals I’ve spoken with say they shop at Walmart because it’s cleaner. Walking around both stores, I was shocked. I bought a notebook, and soap from Carrefours (probably only slightly better than shopping at Walmart), while others were buying cartfuls of things. Mostly middle to upper class folks, from the looks – though looks can be deceiving, since Chinese, and Asians, in general, are some of the sharpest dressing people I’ve seen. Still, with the relatively high [prices], I don’t see most lower waged Chinese shopping here yet. Having been travelling for some time and living on so little, I couldn’t help but notice all the packaging that surrounded all the products – even the small cardboard box around my bar of soap. Then I started looking at everyone around, essentially pushing around cartfuls of packaging, and the immensity of the commerical [sic] problem that is, struck me. The packaging and transport of commercial products seems like such a large, sweet, low hanging fruit for the environmental engineering community to tackle. What progress has been made? – “Globalization Up Close” (2006, March 9), from Ray’s Journal: Travel, Reading Thoughts, personal correspondence  6  These observations and understandings have led me towards the inquiry detailed in this thesis. In it, I explore multiple, often contradictory, discourses and practices of shopping, consumption and consumerism, in an attempt to learn more about how people who are concerned about globalization and consumption learn about these issues through their shopping and act on that learning in an attempt to change the status quo. This is a deeply personal inquiry, because I am one of those people. I have come to share something important with people who are anxious about their local communities or regions. Sometimes, these are people whom I have never met; sometimes we live in entirely different parts of the world; nonetheless their thoughts resonate with me and my experiences. I find them in all kinds of places, from media reports to documentary films to online forums. I count Ray, one of a growing number of otherwise anonymous bloggers around the world, among these people. In a single entry to his own blog, which he maintained to keep in touch with friends and family while he was living abroad, he described a reality that seemed familiar, despite the fact that I had never met Ray and that he was describing China, I country where I had never been. () I also take note of Vandana Shiva’s (2005) and Maria Mies’ (1986) point that, because much of women’s work has been conducted in what patriarchal academic and social systems have categorized as the “private” sphere of the home and unpaid, low paid or casual labour within and outside the home, women – and poor women in particular – bear much of the brunt of globalization. I recognize that I am experiencing globalization within the context of my gender, race, class, ethnicity, religion and nationality. At the same time, globalization’s large-scale social and economic forces alter the meaning of gender, race, class, ethnicity, religion and nationality, and the particular trajectory of my life options and considerations. For over 20 years, my academic, paid and voluntary work has engaged me in women’s, community service and environmental organizations and advocacy movements. I try to surround myself with people who hold progressive social outlooks. I try to shop in areas of the city and stores in those areas that seem consistent with the person I see myself as, in terms of substance as well as style. The problem is that corporate mergers and social complexities make it difficult to figure out “who” a store or a product is and which progressive practices have primacy over others. When I go grocery shopping, should I go to the nearby Choices™, part of a locally owned chain which often offers little locally grown or produced inventory? Should I go to Capers™, now part of America’s largest conglomerate of health food stores, which has fostered strong relationships with local growers? Or should I drive across town to the locally owned and  7  In the 1980s a striking new political rhetoric gave the consumer a new place a long way from the sales or the supermarket. No longer a silly shopper, he or she acquired a grand new exemplary stature as the very type of rational modern citizenship. This consumer-citizen was an individual of no particular sex, with interests and rights and choices. Yet in the light of this character, personally seeking the best deal for himself or herself in every department of life, some other features of the…consumer ideal are revealed. It involves ideas of collective responsibility (as well as feminine culpability), and includes a concern for social welfare (as well as anational interests). – Rachel Bowlby (2001), Carried Away, p. 133  8  controlled food co-operative and health food stores on Commercial Drive? At what point do my concerns and considerations about shopping pull me into the contorted position of trying to solve problems of global magnitude through my consumption – turning me into a new kind of “silly shopper” (Bowlby, 2002, p. 133)? () How do I learn to make sense of all this and begin to answer these questions? Breaking into the Ivory Tower Although adult education scholars and practitioners speak often about the everyday as an occasion for learning, at the outset of this inquiry I saw few examples of empirical research within the adult education field which attempts to explore what that means. Starting out in my doctoral program, I was centrally interested in globalization, which I conceptualize formally in chapter two, and in how adults learn to understand and respond critically to it. Finding it difficult to pinpoint a way to talk to people about a phenomenon like globalization, which can seem abstract and overwhelming, I began to see shopping and consumption as processes through which each and every one of us comes to experience and know globalization in a very intimate way. Shopping became an example of how the mundane is not necessarily simple, of how takenfor-granted habits can be occasions for learning, of how the personal really is political. It seems that my decision to undertake this inquiry coincided with a virtual explosion in public interest in and concern about shopping, consumption and consumerism across and well beyond Canada. The word shopping is routinely applied to a growing number of settings and processes. Not long ago, the word referred to what people did in markets or stores. Individuals now talk about shopping for people, places and things – from doctors or life partners, to vacation destinations or homes, to the stuff of everyday life. For those with access to technology and credit, commercial websites have, to some extent, eliminated the physical boundaries of the store. Even before the widespread popularization of technology, transitions from community markets and neighbourhood shops to speciality shopping areas and stores, to the department store and, finally, the big box store have been accompanied by shifts in relationships between producers, vendors, marketers and shoppers. In this dissertation, I outline how shopping has evolved in the context of historical and social developments. Because the focus of my empirical research is the Canadian city of Vancouver, British Columbia, my consideration of shopping is confined to its evolution in Western societies and, often, more specifically to middle class practices in urban areas.  9  Plenitude is American culture’s perverse burden….More than anything else, it is our mediated, consumption-driven culture that’s making us sick. – Kalle Lasn (1999), Culture Jam, p. 11  Clearly, the strong, self-actualized woman is an image that sells....It strikes me as hypocritical, though, to push this limited, you-can-do-anything vision of feminism on women when even Vogue admits that part of the reason why women have self-esteem low enough to need to hear that we can do anything is that this same industry goes around telling us we're too fat/too dark/too loud/too aggressive in the first place, and thus need retail therapy to make ourselves feel validated again....Furthermore, this sort of pro-woman scholck isn't even about feminism at all. It's not like we're all supposed to get together and think about the ways gender roles have created artificial barriers between people, or how sexism keeps us from reaching our goals. Oh, no – we're supposed to race out to the mall and buy things. Yeah, that's going to help women secure their rights to choose. – Rita Hao (2006), “And Now a Word from Our Sponsors: Feminism for Sale,” p. 113  This book is not, however, another account of the power of the select group of corporate Goliaths that have gathered to form our de facto global government. Rather, the book is an attempt to analyze and document the forces opposing corporate rule, and to lay out the particular set of cultural and economic conditions that made the emergence of that opposition inevitable. – Naomi Klein (2000), No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, p. xxi  10  Of course, even before I fell upon an interest in shopping, there were voices speaking out about these issues. Kalle Lasn, founder of the magazine AdBusters and the annual Buy Nothing Day, has gained widespread attention with his sustained critique of consumerism. () Edgy feminist cultural publications have explored how gender, race and class come together in shopping and consumption, and how social politics seem so easily “bought out” by apparently progressive corporations in the name of profit. () Community activists and activist-journalists have been so busy at their investigations of relevant issues that, in recent years, non-fiction writing and documentary films have become regular fixtures on best-seller lists and mainstream theatre releases. Canadian contributions include Naomi Klein’s (2000) international blockbuster, No Logo (), and Mark Achbar and Joel Bakan’s film released in 2004, The Corporation, both of which continue to circulate in their original forms as well as through slick websites (see http:// www.naomiklein.org and http://www.thecorporation.com).3 After I began to read about shopping and consumption earnestly in 2005, I found that, indeed, I was far from alone in my interest. There were news stories about toxins in goods for sale and the impact of travel on global climate change, as well as the possibility of buying ethically produced and marketed items. The alternative online newspaper, The Tyee, offered a platform for J. B. MacKinnon and Alisa Smith as they developed their now well-known “100Mile Diet” (see http://www.thetyee.ca/Series/2005/06/28/100Mile/). One of my favourite radio shows, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) current affairs show The Current, has aired segments on global climate change, genetically modified food, organics and fair trade, among other relevant topics. In 2006, Al Gore came to the attention of millions of people, not in his role as as an American politician, but as the spokesperson in and for the documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (see http://www.climatecrisis.net). On a more local level, California Governor Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger visited Premier Gordon Campbell in June 2007. The two politicians discussed the idea of building a “hydrogen highway” which would stretch along the Pacific Coast and support the development and use of environmentally friendly hydrogen-fuelled vehicles (McCarthy, 2007).4 Although they preceded the start of my study, the 3  Both Naomi Klein and Kalle Lasn have come under attack for their approaches. Klein’s website suggests that her objective is to brand and market herself as much as her message, while Lasn’s AdBusters and “Blackspot” fairly made and traded canvas running shoes suggest that the ultimate resolution to the problems of consumerism lies in more consumption. See J. Heath & A. Potter's The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t be Jammed for one critique of Klein, Lasn and other anti-consumerist activists. 4 Given the concepts that I will go on to discuss in this dissertation, including ideas about the connections between political and cultural spheres, it seems worth noting here that Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger themselves illustrate the links between politics and culture. The former is an ex-politician-turned-“infotainer,” while the latter is an ex-actor-turned politician. Both have used the political and cultural spheres alternately to guide public opinion and secure their own status. 11  Being a “savvy” consumer is not about continually finding the best bargains, although that is a useful skill. Being a savvy consumer is to be aware of the contradictions between the marketing and advertising imposed on us, but still consuming items in intended and unintended ways in order to articulate something else – a sense of self-identity, of difference, or to express a social identity, that sense of belonging to a group based on shared tastes and values. Often the sense of belonging to a group is defined in terms of resistance, as Stuart Hall argues, this being a pervasive or even seductive attitude. Using a notion from Antonio Gramsci concerning the contested “terrain of culture”, wherein ideological struggles take place, Hall continues: The people versus the power-bloc: this, rather than “class-against-class”, is the central line of contradiction around which the terrain of culture is polarized. Popular culture, especially, is organized around the contradiction: the popular forces versus the power-bloc. (1981: 238)  – Mark Paterson (2006), Consumption and Everyday Life, p. 152 12  public education and advocacy efforts of Building Better Neighbourhoods to keep Wal-Mart out of the City of Vancouver in 2002 left their mark on consumer politics in this city. As I was writing sections of this dissertation, I became curious about the extent to which these popular concerns had been identified as legitimate academic interests. On January 21, 2008, I searched the ProQuest database for doctoral dissertations which contained the keyword “shopping.” Granted I narrowed my search to dissertations written in English within the past five years; still, I was surprised to find a total of only 67 titles. Except for two dissertations, one completed at The University of British Columbia and the other at McMaster University, my search returned titles of dissertations written at American universities. Of these 67 documents, the vast majority were produced by students in the subject areas of marketing, finance or business; smaller numbers were produced by students in subject areas such as home economics, geography, architecture or history. The titles of 31 of these dissertations indicated a central concern with online shopping. The only study which was overtly interested in education investigated consumer education from a business management perspective. Clearly, few doctoral students across North America are studying shopping from a critical perspective, and even fewer are looking at shopping itself as a process of ongoing, informal learning. The result of this quick search of North American doctoral dissertations both belies the fact that there has been a great deal of recent critical interest in shopping in Canada and many other countries, and confirms the limited extent to which it is being taken up in the academy as a site of learning and academics' research. The work which most directly deals with consumer education does not tend to approach these topics critically. Although this is beginning to change, as some marketing faculty are engaging critically with the ideology of consumerism, traditionally consumer education has focused on helping consumers find in