These assumptions encapsulate the notion of consumer sovereignty in neoclassical economics of consumption' (Jonathan Scheckter (2006). A Holistic Approach to Consumption Analysis in the Popular Music Market). While the concept is often criticized at an empirical level, or at an intuitive level, the origins of consumer sovereignty are seldom explored with reference to popular music.
The most important advancement of neoclassical economics arose as a sophisticated defense of this assumption of constant preferences. The argument asserts from the outset that, 'tastes neither change capriciously nor differ importantly between people'. (Becker and Stigler, 1977: 76) the starting point is the utilization of a reformulation of consumer theory, first expressed by Becker and Michael (1974). This new theory "transforms the family [consumer] from a passive maximizer of the utility from market purchases to an active maximizer also engaged in extensive production and investment activities," (Becker and Stigler, 1977).
The theory explained various consumption phenomena usually used as criticisms against neoclassical economics, such as the role of addiction, habit-formation, advertising, and fads and fashions in consumption, and provide genuine economic explanations for these phenomena (i.e. In terms of price, income, capital). According to the theory, consumer seeks techniques that will be useful to achieve maximum amount of utility from a given market of popular music. 'Becker and Stigler distinguished between a good or service bought in the popular music market, and the commodity that is actually consumed by the individual, of which the good is just one input' (Adorno, Theodor (1976). "Mediation." In Introduction to the Sociology of Music. New York: Seabury).
Therefore the active utility maximizer uses this good i.e. popular music, as well as various techniques related to popular music, to produce extra utility, which is attached to the commodity and consumed. The techniques commonly cited as additional inputs include the amount of time spent on consumption of popular music, any skills acquired to aid consumption of the commodity, and the level of education of the consumer. Total utility is a function of the popular music that a listener wishes to consume, and in turn, each musical work is a function of some good, time, skills, education, and any other inputs that could increase utility production. These other inputs are collectively termed human capital, or consumption capital. The prices of popular music and related accessories offered to the consumer are not equal to the respective prices of the market goods; they are a function of the amount of utility produced by the consumer as the product of her inputs, the good and the consumption capital. The more positive consumption capital the consumer invests into the commodity (into utility production); the lower will be the cost of consuming the commodity, relative to the consumer's full income (incorporating monetary and time constraints). This price, not given a nominal value, is termed the music's shadow price, (Becker and Stigler, 1977). Becker and Stigler, without dropping the assumption that tastes towards popular music are constant, can account for any consumption behavior displayed by the listener resulting from adjustments of the shadow prices of the music presented to the consumer, which can result from a change in the stock of consumption capital invested into a commodity, the stock of the good invested, or a change in full income.
Campbell in his theory of consumer revolution stated that, 'Certain crucial features were noted about the consumer revolution. It was, for example, a predominantly middle-class affair (at least in this early stage), and consisted chiefly of a new demand for luxury or non-essential products. At the same time, it was clearly related to larger changes that were taking place in English society, ones which involved a shift in values and attitudes. Obvious examples here are the enthusiasm for leisure and leisure-time pursuits, the rise of the novel with the associated demand for fiction, and the cult of romantic love' (Appadurai, Arjun (1990). "Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy).
Clearly, a full account of the concept of our 'consumer society' would include an analysis of the relationship of consumption to its 'apparatus.' Essential elements to be drawn from these studies, however, are found in the shifts in consumer behaviors. According to McKendrick, recognition of increased emulative behavior is useful, while it may not apply to the same degree to class emulation in popular music. Campbell's association of consumerism with Romanticism and its associated ideology of imagination, individualism, and escapism allow for much meaningful analysis of current consumption phenomena, but are not sufficient on its own in providing a full account of the consumption of popular music (or any product). Consumers need to look to their environment in order to make sense of what music they should consume, these studies provide an account of how consumers have learned to utilize their environment. 'The industrial revolution resulted in an abundance of product information being presented to the masses' (Berland, Jody (1992). Angels Dancing: Cultural Technologies and the Production of Space). These studies indicate that consumers grew accustomed to attaching social and individual attributes to products' (Meyer 1998). This is apparent when this perspective of consumers is viewed in accordance with other modes of operation than consumption, especially that of advertising.
Adorno, Theodor (1976). "Mediation." In Introduction to the Sociology of Music. New York: Seabury.
Berland, Jody. (1990). "Radio Space and Industrial Time: Music Formats, Local Narratives and Technological Mediation." Popular Music 9(2): 179-192.
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Manuel, Peter (1993). "Introduction." In Cassette Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1-20.
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Jonathan Scheckter (2006). A Holistic Approach to Consumption Analysis in the Popular Music Market.
Appadurai, Arjun (1990). "Disjuncture and Difference in the Global…