論文題目：Producer-Consumer Relations in Postmodern Society
著者：フランチェスコ・ヴィトゥッチ （VITUCCI, Francesco）
AIM OF THE THESIS
The objective of this work is to illustrate the deep connection between consumer behavior, production practices and postmodern literature. In concrete terms, I investigate the following three questions: ①what are the main features of the so called postmodern consumer as seen by small/medium companies, ② to what extent do the views of the consumer held by small/medium companies match postmodern theories, and ultimately ③ to what extent do small/medium companies implement those views in the real strategic aspect of their business? What emerges from this work is thus a new proposal: i.e. to consider Postmodernism as a phenomenon which is still alive and is still observable from within the ambit of consumption.
This thesis utilizes a framework adapted from consumption studies. Ideas about Postmodern relations between producers and consumers have evolved from the negative approach of e.g. Harvey, Baudrillard and Jameson, who saw Postmodernism primarily as a production/marketing tool, towards a more positive view taken by such theorists as Campbell, McCracken, Miller and Fabris, who shift the focus from production to consumption. This thesis argues that, just as theorists on the old, negative pole of the spectrum lacked a theory of consumption, the shift towards a positive, consumer centered analysis has come at the cost of neglecting the role of the producer. While situating itself at the positive pole of this spectrum, this thesis adopts a two-way approach (producer-consumer, consumer-producer) which highlights both the role of producers within the construction of the consumer image and the influence exerted by consumers on production processes. Consumption, in other words, is seen as the outcome of a reciprocal communication path between actual consumer behavior and its interpretations from the side of production.
The thesis includes an empirical study of the postmodern producer-consumer relationship. The study focuses on the postmodern consumer as seen from the perspective of the top managers of small and medium-sized Italian companies in the fields of fashion, accessories, and cosmetics. The main reason I selected companies involved in these fields was that these are areas where certain postmodern consumer trends are easily observable. Small and medium-sized companies in Italy were chosen because of ① the higher sensitivity of these companies (compared with larger ones) to market stimuli and changes in consumption behavior, and ② the need for a quick response and smooth communication (which is why I carried out almost all the interviews in the Emilia Romagna region). A small number of interviews with top managers and very senior personnel was carried out based on a questionnaire which aims to establish the reactions to consumption trends of small and medium-sized companies from a marketing/production/design perspective
The first chapter starts with a general introduction to the phenomenon of Postmodernism, presenting different approaches to its definition together with its links with the fields of sociology, art and literature. The chapter ends with a presentation of Baudrillard’s theories which, while taking a rather pessimistic approach to the issue of knowledge in contemporary society, also open up the way to a constructive approach to Postmodernism thanks to Baudrillard’s semiotic analysis.
The second chapter faces the main issues of the sociology of consumption by presenting the main authors in the field in a chronological perspective. Each author is presented autonomously in order to highlight the diachronic evolution of consumption studies and at the same time the differences between each author’s approach to the issue of consumption are made clear. The chapter ends with a summary of the most recent trends within consumption studies.
The third chapter brings together the theories presented in the first two chapters, proposing the postmodern consumption paradigm as a framework for understanding contemporary producer-consumer relationships. This framework, which is based on the work of Ewen, Hebdige and Gottdiener, integrates consumption, fashion, and media influence. The perspective is much more positive than that taken by the critics of Postmodernism introduced in Chapter 1: individual consumers are able to recontextualize goods in order to form their identities. The particular contribution of this thesis is to address the role and strategies of the producer in relation to the postmodern consumer. Most attention has been paid to the behavior of the consumer, identifying trends such as patchwork, fusion, and narcissism. We need to understand more about how producers are reacting to and working with these new, or at least newly observed, behavior patterns on the part of consumers.
The fourth chapter introduces the empirical study carried out during 2005 in Italy. The reader will be presented with the latest trends within the market of fashion/accessories but also with a new image of the postmodern consumer as described by the interviewed personnel. This image will be then summarized together with the postmodern consumption paradigm presented in the second and third chapter in order to form the conclusion of the thesis.
Contents are thus divided in the following way:
Chapter 1: Postmodern Theory
1.1 The origins of Postmodernism
1.2 The term
1.3 What is Postmodernism?
1.4 From Modernism to Postmodernism
1.5 Postmodern Art
1.6 The era of simulacra
Chapter 2: Consumption Theory
2.1 Inter-peer competition for status: Veblen and Simmel
2.2 Consumption as daydream: Colin Campbell
2.3 A fragmented consumer: David Harvey
2.4 The myth of consumption: Jean Baudrillard
2.5 Recontextualing consumption: Daniel Miller
2.6 Consumption and culture: Grant McCracken
2.7 Expressive consumption: Giampaolo Fabris
Chapter 3: A framework for postmodern producer-consumer relations
3.1 Consumer identity and the question of style
3.2 Subcultures and the elaboration of styles
3.3 Who is the postmodern consumer?
3.4 Narcissism and the feminization of the market
3.5 Luxury democratization
3.8 The role of Producers
Chapter 4: An Empirical Study of Producers and the Postmodern Consumers
4.1 The survey
4.1.1 Preliminary survey: written questionnaire
4.1.2Main survey: interviews
4.2.1 Theme (1): Narcissism and Feminization of the market.
4.2.2 Theme (2): Luxury democratization.
4.2.3 Theme (3): Vintage.
4.2.4 Theme (4): Fusion.
4.2.5 Theme (5): The role of Producers
6.1 Technical problems