REVIEWS. LAST CHANCE

Hi all,

This is the last week of English 257/363. The reading for this week, “Consumer, Producer, Prosumer,” by George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson, invites you to think about multiplicity from the perspective of what is known as “prosumer culture”: a late instantiation of a not-so-late principle in economic theory. Those of you who need this week’s review to finish their blogging exercises are welcome to try their hand on writing a few lines about this text.

Good luck

Francisc

Advertisements

38 comments

  1. hand049

    George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgensen’s article “Production, Consumerism and Prosumerism” is a reading that I have personally found to be the most readable, interesting and relatable of all the readings in this course.
    It speaks about the constant link between the oldest method of capitalism; production, that is the production of goods, and the other method; consumerism, this being the consumption of goods by the public. It links the two by saying that the newest form of capitalist society make them function in a relationship which encompasses both aspects as a single process, that being termed (by combining the two words) prosumerism. In particular, the article states that this idea has come more into dominance in the digital age of the internet.
    By use of the internet the corporations in charge of the means of production are working to actively make the consumer a free source of production. Such examples that the text uses are websites like Facebook, where the users upload information that is entirely related to themselves and the company in charge uses that information to make money through advertising third party products to the user based on the information they supply in the first place. In this sense the company is making money through the user by the work the user has put into creating a digital profile of themselves.
    This idea of prosumerism is something which needs to be given a larger voice. While not everything involved in this method I would consider bad or wrong (such as cleaning up after one self in a fast food restaurant) there are clear examples of the rich trying to leech whatever services they can from a society where employment is on a steep decline. This is where the problem seems to begin for this mode of capitalism but not in the least, is it the only problem with it.

  2. Glenn

    In Ritzer and Jurgenson’s article, “Production, Consumption, Prosumption” they discuss the notion of ‘prosumption,’ a term coined by Alvin Toffler. Looking at the progress of Western capitalism from the Industrial Revolution through to the 21st Century they introduce theories of society switching from production-centric to consumption-centric. Ritzer and Jurgenson disagree with this binary however, asserting that the focus should and has always been on a mix of production and consumption- prosumption. The examples they use to prove this include the rise of fast food culture in the mid- 20th Century and its focus on having the consumer doing the work to produce their meal. They then explore the notion of the prosumers of the internet age, noting the distinction between Web 1.0 (sites AOL etc.) and the more recent Web 2.0 (sites like Facebook etc.) as being a form of the internet in which the content is produced by the consumer. They also go into the difficulties of understanding whether this new internet-based prosumption is really exploiting the prosumers when little money is being exchanged and most internet prosumers freely dedicate their own time to these products. They ultimately believe this will lead to a new type of capitalism emerging which finds ways to thrive on this model or consumer-generated products whilst remaining profitable.

    I disagree with their earlier points in the article that the prosumption model was all-encompassing from the beginning. I believe the binary of production and consumption was much more noticeable in the developing stages of Western capitalism and that it was only in the latter-part of the 20th Century that prosumption became most apparent. I do agree though that prosumption is becoming a rapidly proliferating market concept and is becoming increasingly apparent in our lives, take for instance the increasing amounts of self-serve kiosks at supermarkets.

  3. jfin943

    I also enjoyed this article because I felt I personally could relate to it. I think that although we assume the world is dominated by capitalism, in reality it is now dominated by this newly founded idea of prosumption. Part of what makes companies able to get away with prosumption is the fact that today’s society is typically labeled and assumed to be a capitalist one; thus people may be contributing to the “prosumptive” qualities of society without realizing they are doing so. For instance, when we go to the supermarket and decide to go through the self-checkout, we are contributing to prosumption. However, most people genuinely enjoy doing these menial tasks themselves. So is prosumption really a “problem” the way that some people view capitalism to be? For instance, in New Zealand and in the US, we enjoy being able to design a burger or other sandwich item ourselves. I read an article about an American man who tried to set up a shop which gave people the ability to design their food exactly the way they wanted to in an eastern country, and the shop was very unsuccessful. In this country (I believe it was China), the people preferred the company to make the burgers themselves, and did not think it was fair to ask the customers to design the food. This might be because the US has a very individualistic mindset, while China has a more collectivist mindset. Either way, I thought it was interesting how prosumption is only successful in countries that were previously capitalistic

    Personally, I don’t think prosumption is a good or bad thing. It simply shows that as a society, we prefer to be in control. However, if one actually stops to think about it, it feels like these companies are taking advantage of our need for independence. This is a paradox because only after we realize this, we may have an issue with prosumption. However, if we don’t think about how this is benefitting the company, we can be happy with our independence and control over that which would typically be controlled by the capitalist company.

  4. Rowan

    Ritzer and Jurgenson tag the current global socio-economic trend “The age of the Prosumer.” This statement seems to imply an amalgamation of capitalism’s two opposing factions: Capital’s power over production with consumer demand, together making up a “prosumer” who both makes the goods and drives the need for them. As Marx pointed out (as mentioned in this article) “production always involves consumption.” The binary relationship capitalism relies upon to function is not revelatory, and I feel the need Ritzer and Jurgenson have to define a new stage of its incarnation to be somewhat missing the point. “The Prosumer” is a useful analogy, however in response I would mention Baudrillard’s theory of disappearance in which labelling something thereby begins its dissolution, meaning the true definition can never be realised anyway. What “type” of capitalism it is doesn’t matter – the fascination lies in the dynamics at work within the system.
    The article effectively describes how capitalism adapted in its drivers through the past two centuries, from a feudal economy through an industrialisation one in to the present digital age. The connectivity of the digital world (itself a bi-product of capitalist endeavour) helps to realise its own consumerist possibilities: thus the prosumer was born. Ritzer and Jurgenson are right in pointing this out as a new dynamic within the structure of capitalism.
    What is problematic about this adaptation is that the ever-increasing metabolic rate of consumerism prosumerism affords is at odds with the operating system (in an analogue sense) that built it. The business models of late Twentieth Century capitalism work on exploiting the disparity between capital and labour; owners of production squeeze profit margins. If the work now done by prosumers is largely, as the article suggests, for free, then the binary structure that holds the capitalist system together is ruptured. This is a reason why print media has become increasingly challenging to make economically viable: users expect free content, often because the produce it themselves. The expectations surrounding the value of goods has shifted with the consciousness of society into a new, digital (and therefore illusory) age.
    The internet has replaced the “cathedrals of consumption” that until recently signified modern economic psyche. It is a “virtual cathedral” where, because of its underlying dis-reality, the old rules do not apply.

  5. jong893

    “Production, Consumerism and Prosumerism,” by George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson made me think about how the consumer market has changed over the years. The example of trends in the mid-1950s listed may seem like common task for us but it was not a normal routine for people in the past, such as pumping one’s own gasoline or going online to book accommodation or flights. Such prosumer culture has led to many manual jobs being lost to technology. Not as many cashiers are need at countdown due to self service purchase. In fact, whenever I go to the market, I would prefer to use the machines when making payment. I find it to be faster and more convenient. A prosumer culture would definitely continue and would be aided with technology.

    The reading also made me think about how capitalism is able to work everywhere. With the emergence and popularity of Facebook and YouTube. Large companies have monopolised that. The advertisement YouTube forces you to watch before you can watch the video you wanted. Advertisements even pick up your favourite searches and would cater to your interests. Google, Facebook and many other websites keep records of your information. I had recently read an article where a private company was storing information about people over the internet and selling them to either government or private sectors. Even a ‘big brother’ would be unacceptable, let alone a private company keeping tabs on us and selling our information for a profit. Capitalism will always find a way to keep up with the latest trends and will find a way to cash in on that.

  6. Prosumption, as approached in this reading by Jurgenson and Ritzer, as a model coming to dominate the marketplace at an exponential rate in contemporary society, quite possibly lacks conviction as an argument. I think that any well-reasoned academic standpoint should be permitted a lengthy gestation period, even though I am an advocate of studies of contemporary phenomenon as they emerge. Maybe a more relevant concern is then that this argument seems to sit at a juncture of foundational studies into the new, an article that goes some way to raising interesting questions but little way toward answering them.

    The examples provided of where in society presumption is prevalent seem to be used in a way that assumes older forms of the production/ consumption divide also included. The authors’ mention of choosing your own salad at a salad bar, or carrying your own meal to the table at a fast food restaurant, in my mind, seem to be no different as picking out your own produce at a market or carrying it home in your basket. Companies have always relied on word of mouth as advertising capital from their customers. Think also of the window stickers some mechanics leave behind so that you become a portable advertisement for them, or branding on clothing. These are not so contemporary and pertain to the more traditional divide. You buy the clothes acting not as a prosumer but as a consumer. However, following Ritzer and Jurgenson’s logic, it appears that any market exchange could be argued as being an act of the prosumer.

    My position, therefore, is that maybe the rise of prosumption is a rise in the intellectual understanding of the nuanced relationships that exist between the agents of capitalism, and a way of viewing these relationships from a perspective that denies the simplicity of dichotomy in definition.

  7. This article again was relevant to some of the other papers I am taking so was very useful for me! I am doing a conjoint BA/BCom and prosumerism is something we have discussed in marketing, although I haven’t read this particular article before. I agree with Ritz and Jurgensen when they say “In prosumer capitalism, control and exploitation take on a different character than in the other forms of capitalism”. Yes, as consumers this trend towards allowing us more creative input/say into the production creation/development/testing/assembly/distribution process means the consumer is becoming increasingly central and have influence they were not able to grasp before. Take Nike for example, who allow their customers to design sneakers to their exact specification (to an extent, they still have to use the selection of colors, patterns etc offered just in different combinations) and individualize them with personalised stiching etc. Further, companies like Starbucks use customer input to create entirely new products through design competitions, usually offering some sort of incentive (money/prize) to encourage a wide customer base to contribute ideas and vote for their favourite. Customers not only get creative control here (although of course the companies have the final say) one lucky customer is also rewarded for contributing so. On the other hand, this trend towards prosumerism can be seen as a clever marketing ploy by companies. They realize with social media customers are demanding increased input and have immense influence on brands, reputations etc. Increasingly, companies need to listen to their customers just to survive. This move certainly doesn’t harm companies through. Through collaboration they can immensely cut down on labour costs, relying on their customers for new ideas etc while garnering interest and support for new products etc through this collaboration via competitions, campaigns etc. Like always, the bottom line is profit and prosumerism would not be relevant if it did not deliver profits to companies, in a way that one could argue is insidious and perhaps even more controversial than not offering customers a say at all. It is still inherently capitalism, only now customers- often without considering it- participate even more directly in this profiteering system.

  8. mboh895

    In the article “Production, Consumerism and Prosumerism” by George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson, I found the idea of prosumer capitalism very interesting. Reading through the article I was able to understand what Ritzer and Jurgenson was saying and I was able to form my own opinion. I struggled with most of the text through this year because I just thought that most of the texts were just scholars showing off their intelligence rather than trying to get the reader engaged in what they are saying. With this article however I was able to be engaged with the writing and I enjoyed it, I felt that most of the other texts were a waste of time for me to read because I really didn’t know what they were talking about however this text is completely different.
    With this reading instead of looking at the history that Ritzer and Jurgenson were referring to I decided to look at it in a different perspective. Comparing South Africa where you have someone who fills up your car with gas for you rather than doing it yourself, to here in New Zealand where you are able to do it yourself without anyone helping you, I felt like New Zealand is a prosumer culture. Like self check out I hardly doubt would happen in South Africa because some people can’t be trusted there where in New Zealand they can. I definitely believe that New Zealand is a prosumer culture and that they will continue to grow and develop with technology even though it means people would lose their jobs. I do however feel that it is the kind of people who live in New Zealand that make it a prosumer culture, because the technology is there for South Africa to become more like a prosumer culture with more technological development but they cannot because in some cases it would mean you have to trust others and there is just too much theft and dishonesty there.

  9. scol121

    The appeal of prosumerism seems to be, from the perspective of the individual, that you can do things and make things the way you like. Rather than a pre-existing mould, a product fits you. Of course, in the case of Web 2.0, especially with sites like facebook, it means we willingly take on a huge amount of administration of our social lives and public image. This is not without its benefits. The true drawcard of facebook, the reason why it works is that for the most part, everybody is on there. We enter a second virtual marketplace for social interaction, where a person is datafied. The film ‘The Social Network’ highlighted this point when they realised the reason people would use their site-to see someone’s relationship status. This was the (fictional) final detail added before facebook went live. Facebook has managed to capitalise human nosiness. Prosumerism works by giving you a certain amount of space within the system, but it must not be mistaken for actual freedom. An excellent way to distract the masses from realising something is wrong is to give them more to do. Governments use this strategy to have their citizens in a constant state of emergency logic, as discussed by Zizek. If you point to how bad things are elsewhere (the starving in Africa) or start a war, the problems at home do not seem to be the first priority. Under prosumerism, people frustrated with a capitalist system are distracted by having more input, more choice. You can help to build better products, but the end goal is still to consume.

  10. 9925747

    A very interesting article, I enjoyed the points that were made about how we bloggers are in effect promoting this very site!!! source and can promote it via Fbk, twitt, or WordPress too! I have myself looked into business and internet ventures but hit the same obstacle how do u make money? Advertising seems to be the most common way. The ‘cathedrals of consumption’ is a great metaphor for what is going on. I suppose the Saturday markets in Auckland are a temporary market of consumption, I mean who goes to the farm to buy their veges or their meat these days?
    The credit growth bubble and cheap goods from factories in China that are owned by Americans – that employ child labour and minimum rates….This age of affluence as some would say from ‘Peak Oil’ that what did we do with earths resources – did we try and explore the universe, live sustainably or spend most of it on ourselves, the American Dream, New Zealand dream?
    Web 2.0 is another interesting concept and its comparison of things like facebook to fast food chains. This comparison is quite true in that the prosumer acts as their own waiter/waitress. However in American and UK there is more of a tipping service which promotes consumption in places other than prosumer restaurants = prosumerants. When I dine with my mates at a fast food chain I leave the rubbish on the table and tell my friends to do the same because I know it literally creates another job, helping our economy. They dont always listen but thats up to them.
    The whole idea of a new form or type of capitalism appears quite apparent, due to the free market and ability to produce goods cheaply with technology it is possible to customise goods for the prosumer, who demands this and if not met will find someone who can. It is no easy or to have a monopoly, yet Facebook seems to be doing a good job and a duopoly as they mentioned where google and microsoft are the dominant web forces.
    Another force is the concept of sustainability which is always on the horizon yet slow to be taken up, slowly more and more producers are moving towards sustainbility….hence providing what the consumer wants not needs and for their demand based on an order over the net there is less wastage of resources as in a mass factory sense and more sustainable.

  11. madz465

    When I first encountered the word ‘Prosumption’ I immediately thought of the internet and especially social media websites. The idea that the consumer would be the ones producing their own content and consuming it resulting in profit for a third party would certainly have been inconceivable just fifteen years ago. Yet here we are today, where websites such as Facebook, Youtube and Tumblr, who provide little original content, rather provide the layout, services and territory ideal for the flourishing of prosumption. All three are free websites yet make huge amounts of money while not essentially creating anything new, rather allowing their user base to do the work for them in this regard. This revenue comes from advertisement, a classic medium for profit, made largely profitable by the sheer mass of people on these websites. Yet Tumblr does not have ads and has made little profit compared to other websites with similar user bases as a result. However Yahoo still bought the website for a massive 1.1 billion dollars even though it makes little profit. The rumored reasoning for Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr is for its ‘cool’ factor that Yahoo desperately needs. So it’s an interesting thought having different types of prosumers, such as Tumblr’s prosumers as being valuable in terms of the dedicated user base and ideas generated as well as the general public opinion of it.
    Therefore I thoroughly enjoyed the reading, as it was a jumping pad for very thought provoking discussions, especially surrounding current internet culture and its uses in a capitalist world.

  12. Acol 2199236

    I found the idea ‘McDonaldization of Society’ really interesting. I’ve always thought about how we, as consumers always seem to be doing more while the company does less. The example of pumping ones own gas made me go ‘yes!’. I’ve been told I couldn’t fill my car without leaving my keys or licence while I fill. My thoughts: Why don’t you get off your butt and do it for me! I’m paying for this! This shows the shift from consumer to prosumer and may I add, whether we like it or not. The example of the the internet really highlights the prosumer. We can see this with the example of youtube. The content is uploaded by people and youtube makes money by the ads that appear before the video and on each page. This is a contrast to the earlier version of the internet WEB 1.0 where the internet provider uploaded the content rather than being user-generated. In terms of the internet, I think it is a positive thing. We can customize things to our liking. However, I think that companies do take advantage of this to make money and reduce expenditure through providing less staff i.e one person to supervise 6 self serve checkouts. In the end, I like to believe that more traditional and customer friendly service will shine through.

  13. tste660

    I found Ritzer and Jurgensons’ ‘Production, Consumption, Prosumption’ an interesting read. Unlike many of the text it presented ideas clearly and expanded on them in a cohesive way. Personally, I do not hold a lot of interest for economic or technological politics and I still was able to engage in the text.

    Unlike traditional capitalism, prosumers are performing tasks that make them feel in control of the service/product they are engaging in and why I feel prosumerim is so successful. I found the point of prosumerism as exploitation particularly interesting because as a consumer society people feel the need to be constantly upgrading their things to be involved in the identity modern consumerist society holds, yet they also have an increasing need to feel individual. I cannot accurately comment on early capitalism from experience, yet I feel there was perhaps not the emphasis on individualism within the consumer society that there is today. Therefore, the concept of prosumerism allows the consumer to feel their individual needs are being fulfilled because they are taking a larger role in the production of things/services. Through wanting a more preferred experience/product, people are willing to put in more effort in order to achieve it.

    Thus, in my opinion it is not direct exploitation because people do not feel limited or oppressed as in previous capitalist models, yet people tend to forget that their skill of producing is being utilized without them gaining a profit, so it is still exploitation. Prosumer societies become so engrossed in what they want, they are willing to give corporations their skills, so as to create the all important individual experience.

  14. Hayley

    Prosumption—the blurring of the binary, production and consumption. Produced by the consumers. This concept has been around for a while, termed by Alvin Toffler in the 1980s; however, our contemporary society provides an almost perfect environment for it to proliferate. This environment consists of enormous technological growth, and increased forms of communication, such as Web 2.0. Ritzer and Jurgenson theorise about how consumers have become responsible for the production of consumables.

    A question raised in the article is one of exploitation. We could argue, by using Karl Marx’s value theory that the prosumer production on the Internet is an evolved way of exploitation. It can also be argued however, that labour is compensated in different ways such as online community and marketing of oneself. We must also take into consideration the aspect of enjoyment and choice. However, prosumerism exists within a capitalist system and the prosumer works for capital for free and therefore produces a large surplus value. Exploitation is ambiguous when discussed in terms of the Internet. The labour provided by prosumers is not overtly recognisable as traditional forms of exploitation within capitalism.

    What we gain from this contemporary version of capitalism is a new sense of independence, authenticity and a feeling of cutting out the corporations. Creativity is valued but the boundaries are given to us in which creation can take place.

    I wanted more from this text—the social implications, issues of the creative, alienation aspects and questions of identity within this contemporary prosumer capitalism, but I didn’t get it.

  15. hwoo884

    The Ritzer and Jurgensen article, “Production, Consumption and Prosumption” was a more intriguing read than other texts that tend to rattle on about production and consumption. It had a newer, more modern take, rather than many that focus on Marx and factory working and capitalism, etc. So I found this to be a fresh approach with the added term of ‘prosumption’.

    The concept of ‘prosumerism’ seems to entail the merging of being a producer while simultaneously, a consumer. The article discusses a lot of ‘do it yourself-type’ examples of presumption, such as how we can now scan our our food at self-service kiosks in super markets. Things such as this give the consumer more of a sense of control, while also being a producer as they are putting in the work as well as being a consumer of the product; hence ‘prosumer’.

    However, more interesting than this was the whole ‘Web 2.0’ phenomenon. This seems to be a more subtle, or even sneaky, mode of prosumerism. While the internet user may always feel in control of what they’re watching, viewing, or reading, capitalism still gets a look in. The explosion of the net has created a smorgasbord of mediums in which to place advertising, such as the user-uploaded content of YouTube, which now ‘forces’ you to sit through advertisements, some you can skip after 5 or so seconds, while others are entirely unskippable. Not to mention the ads constantly in your face on Facebook and many other social media sites, and general popular websites like TradeMe/eBay and the likes.

    Most of this goes somewhat unnoticed by the general prosumer, as they enjoy what they are doing. Many in a sense are ‘working’ for no pay, such as the LinkedIn language example Ritzer and Jurgensen used. I don’t think the prosumer nature is a bad thing – just the way things are. Some enjoy it, some try to find ways around it. Either way, it’s going to continue to change and evolve just as the whole producer-consumer relationship has.

    hwoo884
    535 4043

  16. When I started reading the introduction of Ritzer and Jurgensen’s “Production, Consumption and Prosumption,” I thought their definition of “prosumerism” seemed a lot like the general concept of supply and demand: “Prosumption involves both production and consumption rather than focusing on either on or the other.” It wasn’t until later in the essay that the author’s really clarified the meaning and how the two combine in a prosumerist world. The earlier definition was incomplete: prosumerism is not just the joint involvement of production and consumption, but the joint management of production and consumption by the same unit.

    This article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-daily-princetonian/prosumerism_b_1463166.html), found in the online edition of the Princeton University student newspaper, really clarified the concept of prosumerism by relating the concept to dubstep music and a surprisingly old (1972) quote by Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan: “With electric technology, the consumer would become a producer.”

    The concept of prosumerism is one that had occurred to me before, but it was really refreshing to read this essay and related documents to settle into the idea of a name for the idea. Prosumerism, I feel, is something I experience all the time (perhaps because of how much time I spend on the internet, where prosumers abound). But I question Ritzer and Jurgensen’s list of examples (pp.19) of social media sites as examples of prosumerism. It is true that in the online world, producers and consumers often become the same, but I think a much more relevant argument can be made for prosumerism when consider not social media websites, but sites like Ebay, Care.com and Etsy.

  17. rmer982

    “Production, Consumption, Prosumption,” is an interesting read about the idea of ‘prosumption,’ and how this phenomenon has lead to a new form of capitalism. Ritzer and Jurgenson present their ideas with a clear and logical structure, making it easy to read.

    Prosumption is the idea that production and consumption exist together without separation. Ritzer and Jurgenson give different examples of how prosumption exists today. For example, they talk about the fact that companies put consumers to work by giving them self service options, such as at a fast food restaurant, ATM machines or pumping your own gas at a petrol station. They discuss the exploitation of customers in these situations, because companies use unpaid consumers to do the work for them. They say, “The beauty of the consumer system is that it serves to reduce the need to hire personnel to do this work.” I think that this presents a further issue, that jobs are being sacrificed for the sake of the efficiency and profit of companies. The more self – service options there are, the less jobs there are available for people who need work. I have lived in a third world country where banks are busy with numerous tellers serving consumers, and all gas stations have employees doing the work for consumers. This creates more jobs for people without companies relying on the prosumers.This is a stark contrast to New Zealand, where banks do not have much staff and take advantage of prosumers and technology, by suggesting you just use the automatic machine. So I think this shows that the prosumer culture is more prevalent in developed countries.

  18. JL203 (1560712)

    Ritzer and Jurgensons’ ‘Production, Consumption, Prosumption’ was an interesting read posing new ideas which never occurred to me before. It is true supermarkets such as Countdown are introducing Kiorsk machines for self-check outs and seem to be taking a trend in other appliance stores such as The Warehouse. As consumers, we are engaging in tasks such as scanning and checking out (which were pre-assigned to jobs their employees should be conducting). Labour is not slowly taken over by consumers and with internet shopping such as trademe, production has now been enveloped by over consumerism. K mart and The Warehouse have even introduced self scanning devices which enables consumers to scan their items to know the price of their products without asking the staff. As the digital age takes the world by storm, It wouldn’t be surprising if the eisles of food and drinks are replaced by electronic catalogues where you no longer have to walk and shop for your items. Instead, the items you select are brought to you via machinery by press of several buttons. Maybe one day University would conduct their lectures through the computer screen instead of travelling into town for one lecture or two. If it did evolve to this, I think it would solve the problem of students wagging classes due to ” can’t be bothered” (especially with cost of transport and time) in which prosumerism would become very enjoyable.

  19. I would agree with most of those commenting above in that this article is quite interesting. To me the idea of the consumer and the producer being one and the same is not that novel – everyone needs jobs, everyone needs things/ food etc. So in turn the idea of the prosumer is not that surprising either. Until you introduce capitalism – where everything must be monetised, accounted for, paid for etc. Without capitalism I wonder if the prosumer would still exist. For example, examples the author use are self check outs and fast food restaurants. The idea that the consumer is taking part in the production role in these instances only works if you would expect someone else to do this job at other times, or for that matter if you think of it as a job full stop. It’s only when it is put into that capitalist framework that the role of the prosumer may emerge.

    To me the existence of the prosumer recognises that people should be in boxes with ascribed roles. It’s all about labelling, categorising. So the check out operator is the check out operator and therefore no one else can participate without becoming part of the system. On the other hand, if you were to buy fruit from a road stall complete with honesty box, i.e. paying for and collecting your produce yourself would you still be a prosumer? Or taking things right back are people who grow their own vegetables and consume them, are they prosumers?

  20. Julian

    I felt this reading was both interesting and enjoyable to read. Especially interesting were the changes historically from a social standpoint from production to a much greater emphasis on production. Baudillard made valid points that the space of society and forces were changing to a consensus of growth. The points raised of unpaid production or production being available either through virtual space or geographical space was also quite thought provoking. Furthermore, I found the notion of prosumer to be well explained in lament terms. Coined by Alvin Tophler this ‘Prosumer’ concept is very relevant to the course and the interconnectiveness of oppositions, contradictions which seemingly have little correlation. That the disjunction made by theorist like Marx (production) and Baudillard (consumption) is seperate entities is wholly innacurate. Rather, that the internet and the fact that consumers of sites which allow input and consumer involvement serves as a reminder that ‘prosumption’ is an entity which is more comparitive than first allowed. Our own blog which I am a part of now was not produced by me, yet I consume the site and add my input to the production. This is a means of ‘prosumerism’. It is the producer allowing a contemporary media form to be changed and altered in terms of production and thus consumed differently as a result of this cohesion. Consequently, I found the article both engaging and extremely relevant to society and practise in this day and age.

  21. mbal942

    Ritzer and Jurgenson’s article, ‘Consumer, Producer, Prosumer’ is founded on the argument that the binary separation of consumption and production is imaginary, and that prosumption has always been the modus operandi from the start. One thing I noticed about this article is its focus on developed countries sites in which prosumption takes place, when it seems to me that prosumtpion is equally prevalent in developing countries, specifically the urban areas. The article mentions that “consumers [producing] their meals” is a form of prosumerism. By this logic, families in developing countries, or in rural areas of developed countries, who raise their own meat and plant their own vegetables are also engaged in prosumerism, and yet this idea is not discussed and mentioned only in passing. Perhaps I mistake them in pointing out what appears to be an oversight. In their defense the article’s purpose seems to be the link between capitalism and prosumerism.

    Another thing that stood out to me in this article is the manner of writing employed by Ritzer and Jurgenson. It seems to be that they seem to use a lot of leading words that are intended to influence you into adopting a certain viewpoint presented in the article. Arguably, persuasion is a function of all pieces of writing, but in this case it felt like manipulation. Apart from that it was enjoyable to read and easy to engage with. The topic of the article is certainly one that is applicable to many daily experiences in Western culture.

  22. Olivia T

    While Capitalists may have more difficulty controlling prosumers and face greater resistance from ‘cyber-libertarians’, Capitalism has always faced resistance, and the modern Capitalist/corporation might consider that assuming the risk/cost of increased resistance is worth the greater potential gains or opportunities offered by prosumer culture.
    Customer participation and creation of product, for little or no gain, seems to be an ingenious research and marketing strategy, cutting corporate costs and creating a reputation for valuing customers. While prosumers may genuinely enjoy participation, and sometimes benefit from it in terms of modest payment or increased opportunities via exposure, the authors themselves admit: “Users are the producers, but the profit, or at least the potential for profit, still belongs to corporations.” So facebook isn’t currently profitting (hard to believe – what about adds? – never mind, i’ll assume the authors aren’t lying) because “the brand.. comes first, the profitable product will follow (it is hoped and assumed, not without good reason)”. Can we really argue for a radically new form of Capitalism just because the chronology of profit-making and exploitation processes have been reversed and the means have changed? These changes reinstate the same old Capitalist logic of MAXIMISING PROFIT– in the interests of the Capitalist, at the expense of the worker/prosumer- whether it be in the short term or long term. The relationship is still exploitative in that the ultimate interests being advanced are those of the Capitalist. The fact that the prosumer receives pleasure from their role in these relations could be said to indicate a more sophisticated, effective form of exploitation which is much more complex and difficult to detect. Also, couldn’t the Web 2.0 agenda to create ‘competitive advantages’ vis-a-vis other sites imply the emergence of a more sophisticated Capitalist network which might further empower the already dominant Capitalist?

  23. Michelle Scott

    I liked the take on prosumerism presented by scol121 and the construction of a personalised product by the consumer, specifically through social media like Facebook. What with the personalised ads on the side bar taking information on your profile (pages you’ve liked, things you’ve searched, likes of a mutual friend) to present to you an array of products you might (most of the time do) like and buy. Without knowing or intending to, we’ve created a site that acts as a perfect source of background information to market, market, market! Clever really, when you think about it, as scol121 points out from the “The Social Network” the attraction that new technology seems to capitalise on is “human nosiness”. Apps seem to have this singular purpose in mind. With apps like, FourSquare which pinpoints your location. In fact, this particular function is implemented into all popular social networking sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. This addition takes prosumerism to another element in terms of the information that is poured into the internet and another element to the internet used as a tool for individualised marketing.
    This act of entrusting all kinds of information and in turn receiving a system that provides them with related products/results can be compared to the way a citizen-state relationship behaves. A citizen revokes their information, their name, their right to move around as an independent figure and in return their rights are guarded and protected by the state. Although this model deals with each individual, it’s interesting how the masses are dealt with in a similar way and is dependent on the masses being compliant; you have to put in your information and participate in prosumerism.
    In saying that, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s a very effective way of organising consumerism.

  24. There is a clear reason why Mexico has so many people working as maids in comparison to New Zealand. Other than our lingering egalitarianism, New Zealand is simply a wealthier country. Thanks to the efficiency of our economic system, and thanks to the exploitation of vulnerable workers overseas, in New Zealand you do not have to work for less than $13.50. One result of this is that everybody can afford more goods, but another result is that the rich and the middle-class can afford fewer services. As Joseph Heath points out in “Economics without Illusions”, once most people are out of poverty, the cost of having someone iron your newspaper every morning ceases to be negligible. The poor now have more choice in where they work, and must be paid accordingly.

    The fact that wealthier nations can afford more goods, and that wealthy people within those nations can afford fewer services seems to have been widely overlooked in this text. This is, many would argue, the primary reason that people have become ‘prosumers’. I pump my own gas, I use an ATM, and I use a check-out machine at a supermarket because these machines have become cheap, and people have become expensive. This is not a bad thing, nor is it a capitalist conspiracy, it is an inevitable outcome of declining poverty. Despite this oversight, and to be fair to Ritzer and Jurgensen, the real question they seek to tackle is not where prosumption comes from, but whether it is manifesting itself as a type of consumer exploitation.

    Currently, the heaviest consumers have to fuel their consumption by selling products. They then have to induce a similarly intense consumptiveness in those around them. The result is a system in which people who are already competing with positional goods have their competitive urges exacerbated by greedy people wanting to sell them products. This is hardly a good system, but the increased involvement of consumers in production is unlikely to modify it for the better or for the worse. Consumers are already tremendously good at forcing themselves to conform, thanks to their own fear of failure. Like the woman who feels as though she is empowering herself by losing another five kilograms, we are at a point where we can ruthlessly criticise ourselves and each other without needing an authority figure to do the criticising for us. Like good Web 2.0 technology itself, the capitalist system of competing and perfecting is now self-sustaining, and I doubt prosumption will effect consumer exploitation one way or the other.

  25. This article was refreshingly easy to read. At first when I started reading I thought I was reading the evolution of capitalism from the industrial revolution to consumer society to prosumption. However when Ritzer and Jurgenson made the point that the distinction between consumer and producer is a false one and explained why I began to see the logic. I’m a Sociology major so the two have always been separate to me. This article has been very enlightening. I thought prosumption started with the internet as we are both producers and consumers of the internet with sites such as YoutTube and Wikipedia. However after examples such as people being their own waiters when they carry their own food trays at fast food restaurants and serving as their own bank tellers at ATMs I can see their point that it’s not a new phenomenon. As the article says, prosumption was not invented on the internet but merely given new popularity.

    What I also found interesting was their point that capitalism had expanded into prosumerism but it was harder to control. I wish I had read this article a year ago when I had to write an essay on whether the death of capitalism was imminent. It would have made my argument better. All in all very interesting.

  26. snel032

    In Ritzer and Jurgenson’s article, “Production, Consumption, Prosumption” they discuss the notion of ‘prosumption”. Prosumption or Prosumerism is the mash up of the producer + consumer. The phraze was coined in 1980 by Alvin Toffer referring to the three stages in the development of western economical though.

    Initially there was no separation between consumers and producers, they were the same. However, after the scientific and industrial revolutions and after the first US involvement in world wars, there was a mass weaponry manufacturing. Furthermore, the world was coming into an abundance of resources that needed a market to sell to. We can see action post WW2 created a cathedral of consumption to be created i.e. the indoor shopping mall. However, there is a movement from this producer and consumer distinction that is reverting back to tradition structures. In these structures, the producers were also the consumers. The movement from physical to virtual spaces where economic transaction are occurring online is where those who consumer are also those who sell.

    Another producer and consumer relationship identified was one where the producers and businesses are passing the responsibilities onto the consumers. In Wikipedia style, this means that individuals contribute freely to produce information and resources, that then other individual consumer – all the while where Wikipedia reaps profits. This can be seen more distinctly with facebook, where we pay no money to be a part of facebook but facebook makes money from our contributions on facebook that indicate our preferences or gain money from businesses that with the assistance of facebooks information is able to present targeted advertisements.

    On the whole, understanding the past, presented and future waves of economic relationships between the consumer and producer was rather interesting. It is a constantly evolving, challenging, and shifting relationship that thrives in our capitalistic dominant world.

  27. ksca903 (2785825)

    “Production, Consumption, Prosumption” was an interesting essay, comparing the internet to today’s capitalist world. On first glance, the internet does appears to resist hierarchy, with user-created content the norm. However, the closer one looks, the closer one sees the similarities. Corporations grapple with the internet to harness its huge money-making potential.

    The most recent example is Yahoo buying blogging-platform Tumblr for $1.1 billion dollars. At first this seems a little strange, because Tumblr in the past has only produced $13 million in revenue per annum, and $0 profit. But one can see why Yahoo would be interested in such an endeavour, with the site hosting over 100 million users, who are some of the most loyal users on the internet, spending on average 15 minutes per visit on the site, as opposed to Facebook’s lousy 2 minute visit average. One can therefore see that Yahoo is investing in the vast consumer body of Tumblr.

    Ritzer and Jurgensen also discuss the public backlash to this capitalist invasion, however. In my opinion, this is the biggest truth of the essay. Admittedly, the internet is a particularly sensitive medium. Users are fickle, and the second the layout of Facebook or Youtube changes, half the user-base threatens to leave because it has been ruined forever, only to stay and complain about the same thing next time the layout changes in a few months. The backlash to Yahoo buying Tumblr has been intense. Yahoo has promised not to ‘screw it up’, but how easy can they keep to this promise? Obviously they are wanting to make profit off of this endeavour, yet the two main ways to make profit, ads and paid subscription, would definitely turn away a lot of the 100 million souls they invested in.

    For this reason it has been suggested that investing in prosumers would be a far more lucrative endeavour. But only time will see if corporations could adapt to this model. The internet society has a far different structure to IRL’s capitalist dominated structure, and it takes those familiar with that structure to survive, and make profit, from it.

  28. Mkim171

    The concept of ‘prosumption’ by Ritzer and Jurgenson is evident in our daily lives. Like the self-service kiosks at supermarkets, just yesterday I used a self-service machine at the cinemas to purchase tickets to a movie. These technologies are reducing the need for labour (human resources), decreasing the company’s expenditure and ultimately increasing their profit. However human labour are not in fact being reduced, as we, the consumers, are working for free to fill the labour that was once done by staff. In this light prosumption is quite different to our notions of capitalism, since we act as both producers and consumers, as ‘prosumers’ willingly. We know we are providing this free form of labour: hence we cannot say we are exploited. Same applies with the Web 2.0. On YouTube we upload videos for other to view, and we view videos that other prosumers have uploaded. Although YouTube itself does not upload any videos themselves, they are gaining money from the advertisements they force us to watch before we play a video. Once again, we know we are providing free labour and helping YouTube gain money from the labour that we provide them, yet we still use YouTube. We use Facebook knowing that our profile pictures, personal information, preferences, and even what we write ‘privately’ are all stored and sold to marketing companies. What we provide is used against us for profit, yet we cannot help but use (consume) Facebook. In essence prosumption is something that we cannot seem to avoid with the rise of the Web 2.0 and technology.

  29. K Wilshier

    Whilst I don’t particularly disagree with Ritzer and Jurgensen’s commentary on the history of prosumerism and their observations of this being hyperactive in recent years, particularly online, I do find the conclusion that has been drawn about the increased difficulty for capitalists to control prosumers to be a little short sighted.

    I will certainly agree with the proposed threat to profiteering that the cult of “free” content that has emerged from web 2.0, with print news companies being a prime example. The availability of instant, user generated or independently sourced content has devastated the sales of newspapers, which has not been recuperated by their forays into online news.

    However, this articles proposed difficulty for capitalists’ control over production and consumption of content makes me question what “content” or product this article finds concerning. Personally I believe prosumption has given rise to much more insidious ways for this to take place. Whilst the article suggests there is less control over the videos, the profiles and other user generated content that attracts online activity, there is no mention of the increase of advertising’s effects in this arena. Even the products that must be traditionally purchased/consumed to generate this content is not mentioned (the latest HD cameras, the smartphones that advertise themselves in posts etc).

    I see potential for the “content” produced and consumed by prosumers to be a guise for the content and product that is really of most concern to capitalism, which I don’t believe has been adequately discussed in this article.

    K Wilshier (ID: 1295058)

  30. Juan Geyer

    I found this week’s reading much easier to understand than previous ones. It is very interesting to see the distinction between being a producer and being a consumer. At first it seems that the term ‘prosumer’ refers to the internet with websites like Facebook or Youtube where a person can be both a consumer and producer of online content. However, after further reading it is made clear that the term does not necessarily refer to just the internet. When the authors talk about the prosumer’s unpaid labor they refer to things like us being our own bank teller when using an atm machine or being your own waiter at a fast food restaurant.

    While this is an interesting point, I think that the internet still plays a huge role and will play an even bigger role in prosumerism in the future. Already there are websites like Kickstarter, where people can donate money towards a preferred line of new production. For example, a new computer game with an interesting method or a useful tool that will make life easier. The point is for people to donate money to these causes that they choose or like and then the production will go faster and they will eventually be able to buy the product that they helped to fund. Therefore a person can literally be a producer and consumer at the same time, or a prosumer.

    This reading is a great way to understand the meaning of territorialisation and reterritorialisation overall, and how capitalism is just another form of these. Great reading to finish off the semester with!

  31. yzha961

    Prosumption is a novel concept to me and I find it interesting, having previously never thought of it, that Disney World and relaity television are forms of prosumption. What Ritzer and Jurgensen refer to as the “subtler” mediums produced by Web 2.0 are actually what I regard as the more obvious restructurings of capitalism. It’s clear that the internet has changed, if not reversed, the power struggles between the State corporations and the people. This movement has also been echoed in industries like music production and distribution, where the Big Three have been losing their grip on the market to smaller indie labels and self-managing artists. Knowledge and connectivity – resources previously coveted and dominated by tycoons and elites – are now easily and publically available. Having lost the advantage of control, capitalist companies have been forced to develop smarter ways of generating profit.

    You see this in the recent fluctuation of free-to-use applications. A few years ago, downloads/sales were the primary source of profit. Most free applications were trial versions and the rest lacked appeal due to poor design and small budgets. Now a quick glance at the iTunes chart reveals that nearly all of the top grossing apps are free. Their strategy is to get users hooked, then offer in-game purchases for upgrades or bonuses. They make life easier – that’s the appeal. I suppose it’s questionable whether the choice of purchase here is truly discretionary, but at least this is proof that capitalist strategies are changing. However, most of these games also include pop-up advertisements (never thought these would come back in fashion but I guess capitalism isn’t very creative) which are slightly more worrying. They’re smart about it too – the ads don’t appear until maybe two or three rounds in and gradually seep into the gameplay until you accept them as an inevitability. They were always there … right? It’s not as obvious as traditional capitalism but coercive and irritating all the same. Already, though, the cyber-libertarians have begun poking holes in the smarmy app industry fabric (airplane mode apparently blocks some) and I’m pretty content to wait and see what happens next.

  32. ltay119 5753319

    George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson’s article Production, Consumption, Prosumption was an interesting read. The talk about the history of capitalism, and a term that I had never heard of before, called Prosumption. I found it interesting how the US government encouraged people to shop after 9/11, for fear that they would stop consuming. I had never given much thought to how the production and consumption of goods is integral to the stability of society, and how important it is to the government to be able to collect tax.
    The article mentions the trend that is now leaning more and more towards unpaid work, with the rise of the internet and Web 2.0. This reminds me of the comedian Louis CK, who paid for the entire production of his comedy special himself, then put it straight on his website without going through any cable company or signing any contracts. He made it available for download, in full HD, for the low price of $5. In just 10 days, Louis CK had made over 1 million dollars from people buying it from his site (and he donated half of it to charity).
    A similar thing is happening with TV shows, music, and movies, with apps and websites such as Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. These services use a subscription model, where you pay a certain amount of money per month, and then you get unlimited access to all of their content. Spotify also has the option to just use it for free, but to have ads in between songs to generate revenue that way. This is far different than how it used to be, where you had to pay for the individual movie, TV show, or music item, which was controlled by movie studios, cable companies, and music producers. I think that in the future, artists and filmmakers will self produce and promote things on their own.

  33. ajac092

    Ritzer and Jurgenson’s discussion of the idea of “prosumption” makes for compelling reading. Not content with the ever-present (in capitalist societies) binary of “production” and “consumption” – prosumption is the act of producing and consuming simultaneously and – apparently – it’s how the world has worked for the last few years. (As an aside, this idea brought to mind Deleuze and Guattari’s de- and re-territorialisaion: simultaneous processes working together to create space (with the production as an act of reterritorialisation?)– though I am not sure how far this comparison can be taken, the idea intrigues me). A good example of prosumption is the user-generated web, where people basically create and then consume their own content – especially on social media. However, it was the phrase “cathedrals of consumption” that really struck me in this reading – a throwaway line perhaps, for Ritzer and Jurgenson, but suddenly and unaccountably disturbing. “Disneyland, indoor shopping malls, fast food restaurants…” – our new places of worship? And in such a religion, are our gods are Big Macs and Nike, our prayers, dollar bills? Ever since I watched Fight Club (an experience marred by the fact an unthinking friend had given away the twist ending before I even sat down), the degree to which Western society is a society of consumers has always made me deeply uncomfortable. It’s made worse by the fact I can see it happening to myself every time I buy a pair of Converse or those cheap Ray-Ban lookalikes you get at Cotton On. I’m part of the system, and sometimes when I find myself coveting an iPhone just because of that apple symbol on the back, I really have to stop myself and think for a moment. Because sometimes “the things you own end up owning you.”

    ajac092
    #1483905

  34. T Young

    While the world continues to steadily populate and global activity persistently increases, the advantage of time and convenience will always prevail. I understand Ritzer and Jurgenson’s explanation of “prosumption” as a competitive advantage for the consumer to ‘D.I.Y’, and with its benefits of saving time, money and the prospect of error prevention, it’s evident why we have globally generated this movement.

    A few months back, I participated in prosumption by ‘Googling’ “how long does the average person spend waiting in a lifetime?” With varying answers, the average was around 3-5 years. Whether it be in a line at the supermarket, filling your car with gas, in traffic, waiting for a bus, downloading a file, watching adverts on TV between your show, on average, we spend almost an hour a day waiting. Waiting is an inevitable and necessary aspect of human life and, almost certainly, always will be. But with the fixation of the reality that life is very brief and precious, prosumption gives the consumer the option to avert any wait time by “putting themselves to work”. However, as a consumer, I hardly believe that we see ourselves as ‘doing the work’; the appeal of conserving valued time makes life blissfully easier to conduct.

    Additional to the preservation of time, money is indispensible and the accrual, possession and sustainment of it are not only (obviously) crucial towards survival and existence, but as a consumer, necessary for the indulgence of recreation, amusement and pleasure. For example, a travel agent will charge a considerable amount of additional money to assist a consumer in the selection and booking of his or hers chosen destination. As an alternative, the consumer can pursue and accomplish the equivalent objective for significantly less by electing the option of prosumption.

    As we move in time, in conjunction with the growth of prosumption, the conservancy and obtainability of time and money becomes assiduous. However, the influence that prosumption has on these factoring aspects of the consumers’ life permits the competence and proficiency of doing so.

  35. lleg907

    George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson present capitalism in a new setting- where the consumer and the producer have merged, to make the prosumer. Capitalism society was dominated by production since the industrial revolution, but after World War 2, with the new conception of the ‘good’ life- the economy became consumption based. This is where hyper-consumption was born. This is the idea that our values, and identity all stem from constantly consuming. However, hyper-consumerism has left us feeling alienated and unhappy. We feel disconnected from the natural world. We instead, as a prosumer in the age of web 2.0, crave authentic relations and experiences.

    Ritzer and Jurgenson talk about this move to become more independent yet involved as the prosumer, due to its emergence through social platforms and new media. It’s though these mediums that we can produce and consume without even noticing- but it is this fact that is transforming capitalism. Capitalism no longer solely relies on the means of production, but has to accommodate the producer and the consumer. Companies that own these social platforms compete for prosumers- this aspect of corporation capitalism still exists! However, Jurgenson and Ritzer consult social theories (Marx, Adorno, BAudrillard, Mc Donaldisation theory) on web 2.0’s effects on capitlaism. It is the “collaborative” and the “social” nature of the web that is challenging the foundations of capitalism as we know it. It argues that workers, as prosumers, can’t be traditionally controlled as they cannot be exploited in the same way, nor do they necessarily explicitly work for the owner. The common acceptance of free internet services increases expectations.

    However, I think it is a problem that Ritzer and Jurgenson do not emphasise the problem of constant advertising that this development brings. Each of our personal uses of the web is recorded and used to manipulate us. Websites track visitors’ exploration of the webpage to generate profiles and where to focus attention. Voice, opinion or feedback takes the backseat to data compiled from watching the prosumer’s interaction with the web. This is a matter of very vague tacit consent.

  36. Jun Moungboon

    (I apologise that I was not able to post this earlier, the internet has been down in my home.)

    The reading “Consumer, Producer, Prosumer,” by George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson discusses the aspects of rise in prosumer capitalism. I find that while the language in the article may be simplier than the other readings, as I am apathetic to this notion, some of the ideas seem abstract to me.

    I am introduced to the word “prosumption”; the hybrid of ‘production’ and ‘consumption’, as it acknowledges both ideas at the same time as opposed to one, the production, or the other, the consumption. The article emphasizes on the parallelism of the oldest method of capitalism, the mass production, and the method of consumerism, the consumption of goods by the public. The article then describes the term, “prosumerism”, another hybrid that disseminates the newest form of capitalism in society, a function that embraces both aspects as a single process. The article mainly depicts how these ideas could be articulated in the modern,
    digital age.

    What can be taken from the article is that internet culture has developed modernised procedures, new business models, that allow the notion of consumerism through the interaction with producers. This leads to stability in marketing. In the past methods, it has always been a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, depending on the business clime. Now, with the invention of the internet, we can see the localisation of a desired notion of trade and purchase.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: