Consumption and Society

“Consumption and Society”, University of Shanghai (since 2011)

  • Lecturer: Dunfu Zhang
  • Program: bachelor level classroom seminar; related to studies in environmental sciences, political science, business, sociology and anthropology
  • Duration: one semester; 3 credits; class size: 15-25
  • Focus: acquaint students with theoretical perspectives, methods, practices and research in social approaches to consumption; “help students gain a deeper understanding of global transformation from a producers’ society to a consumers’ society”; gain experience in empirical research using ethnographic methods.
  • Topics:
    1. Food and social change/social space in China;
    2. Modes of provision of goods, services and social change of consumption patterns in China;
    3. Commercial landscape (informal markets, shopping malls, shopping online, etc.),
    4. Leisure activities;
    5. Commercialization of relationships and social consequences (teacher-student / doctor-patient relationship);
    6. Sustainable consumption and social change/everyday-life social practice.
  • Novel approach: International scholars were invited to present in the course; seminars were filmed, with plans to make them available to the public (; select students attended the 2016 conference on “Ecological Civilization Sustainable Consumption Insights for Social Governance”, to interact with domestic and international scholars, NGO leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Student evaluation: observation reports; research projects and assignments
  • Course evaluation: very positive.
  • Awards: chosen as one of the Shanghai University Key Courses, with financial support of $3000
  • Challenge: involving more perspectives from stakeholders such as government, business, and NGOs.