Bullshit consumption: What lockdowns tell us about work-and-spend lives and care-full alternatives



Molesworth M, Grigore G, Patsiaouras G & Moufahim M (2024) Bullshit consumption: What lockdowns tell us about work-and-spend lives and care-full alternatives. Marketing Theory.

COVID-19 disrupted ‘non-essential’ work and consumption, providing an unparalleled opportunity to examine work-and-spend culture, which we do via 44 in-depth interviews that capture experiences and reflections during UK lockdowns. Deploying Graeber’s conceptualisation of ‘bullshit jobs’ and related critiques of consumption, we first consider the possibility that contemporary work-and-spend lifestyles may deny the normative separation of work as worthy toil and consumption as its pleasurable opposite. Within such experience, and in addition to Graeber’s bullshit jobs, we find a parallel in bullshit consumption at work, in order to work, and because of work. Yet our findings also highlight that when freed from bullshit, participants engage in more caring practices for the self, others, and their possessions. We propose that much of our work-and-spend lives might be bullshit: routines that promise status, virtue, freedom, and pleasure, but feel meaningless, while displacing satisfying experiences of care. We conclude that a focus on subtractive logics – cutting the bullshit! – can activate both new critiques and optimism about societal arrangements.

Bullshit; care; consumption; lockdown; work-and-spend

Marketing Theory

StatusIn Press
Publication date online28/02/2024
Date accepted by journal02/01/2024
PublisherSAGE Publications

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Dr Mona Moufahim

Dr Mona Moufahim

Senior Lecturer, Marketing & Retail