Emotions, imagination and consumption: A new research agenda

Eva Illouz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


This article has three objectives. The first calls on vigorously injecting the notion of emotion in the sociology of consumption. In particular, I show that the former has much to contribute to the latter, especially when consumption is conceived as inherent in the process of identity building and maintaining. In this respect, and this is the second goal of this article, I argue not only that the category of 'emotion' can be heuristic for a sociology of consumption, but also that the sociology of consumption has long been, albeit unknowingly, dealing with emotions. Making explicit this analytical category helps strengthen, conceptually, much of the sociology of consumption. The third purpose of this article is to offer preliminary thoughts on the ways in which consumers' volatile desires and emotions are mediated by culture. For the category of 'emotion' not to be psychological or individualistic, we need to understand just how it is infused by cultural meaning through and through. The conceptual link explaining the articulation between emotion and consumption is to be found in the notion of 'imagination', understood as the socially situated deployment of cultural fantasies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)377-413
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Body
  • Consumption
  • Desire
  • Emotion
  • Imagination


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