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By Kaj Illomen

Kaj Ilmonen used to be a pioneer within the 3rd wave of the sociology of intake. This book provides a balanced evaluation of the sociology of intake, arguing that the keenness of 'the 3rd wave' exaggerated the function of the symbolic and imaginary on the cost of the materiality of human societies.

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According to those generalizations, independent households used to produce goods and services that they exchanged for various other goods and services by negotiating with other households. Exchange only took place if both parties benefited. Cooperation, therefore, was achieved without coercion (Friedman 1982, 13). Friedman’s idea is that this simple and individual exchange can be generalized to the complex system that is market economy, but only providing that business enterprises are privately owned and that individuals are free to enter or not to enter into exchange (Friedman 1982, 14).

For example, consumers may buy different foodstuffs and test them in virtually endless combinations to create new taste and smell sensations and aesthetic pleasures. In this sense consumption has a productive aspect, too. This concept refers to creative consumption as discussed above, to exploring the possible range of uses that commodities can offer. This aspect of commodity thus links consumption to production and to the economic dimension of commodity. All four aspects of consumption are usually present in the same commodity, overlapping in a positive relationship with one another.

Political economy had already lost sight of these facts, and they disappeared altogether in marginalist economics, says sociologist of industrial society Daniel Bell (1990, 219). indd 26 11/3/2010 1:38:34 AM 27 evolved instead into a symbolic world aiming to describe people’s actions in the economic realm. Historical analysis shows, however, that these models did injustice to reality by excluding the institutions that maintained the markets. This was no coincidence, as we soon shall see. Economic and other thinking ‘has more to do with intervening than with representing’ (Douglas 1986, 50).

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