Life Is Not Complete Without Shopping - Consumption Culture in Singapore

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By Chua Beng Huat

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One of the cliches that Singaporeans hold most dear is that their lives are a pursuit of the five c's: cash, cars, condominiums, credit cards, and club memberships. Over the last thirty years, Singaporeans have become accustomed to ever-increasing levels of consumption. Singapore's PAP government has 'delivered the goods', and this is recognized as a prime reason for its legitimacy. But what is the culture of this consumption? What does shopping say about Singapore society?

Singaporean scholar Chua Beng Huat is one of Asia's leading commentators on the sociology of shopping and consumption. In a wide-ranging series of essays he explores the consumption experience in Singapore, whether that be hanging out at the town centre McDonalds, riding the escalator at Ngee Ann City, or learning how to look at price tags at Prada. Why do powerful women wear cheongsam? What is the symbolic significance of Peranakan food in Singapore? What do locally-made films say about class in Singapore?

Singaporeans will recognize themselves in these pages, as Chua looks beyond the shop windows and the TV commercials to examine how we constitute Singapore's social reality in an environment steeped in global consumer imagery.


Chua Beng Huat is professor in the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore.

Publication Year: 2003
222 pages, mm x mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-272-8, Paperback

Singapore University Press