I’m an author, editor, and teacher whose work focuses on the intersections between consumer culture, political protest, and everyday life. In my work I approach consumption habits and other lifestyle choices as communicative acts with the potential to craft identities and participate in political projects. My research has focused on how consumption and lifestyle can have tactical implications for strategies of resistance against domination.
My book, Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism (Bloomsbury, 2013), is a study of the cultural practices of contemporary US anarchists. Based on fieldwork with anarchist activists, I map out the ways that minute and mundane habits from diet to dress to sexual practice become imbricated with anarchist political identity. I show how individual resistance against mainstream (capitalist, patriarchal, etc.) ways of life is both a product of and a means of opposing neoliberal power structures. A second line of argument within the book exposes how subcultural dimensions of resistance movements can be both consistent and at odds with the political aims of those movements.
Building on the work in this book as well as my background in media studies, my current research project is about a phenomenon I call “media refusal,” in which media users actively reject specific technologies and platforms as a strategy of cultural and political resistance against pressures to consume technology. The first stage of this project examined a what I called “conspicuous non-consumption,” among people who choose not to participate in new social media platforms such as Facebook. I’ve also looked at the gendered dimensions of social media participation and abstention, among other aspects of the media refusal discourse.
Other research commitments include a post as co-editor of the Commentary & Criticism section of Feminist Media Studies, which publishes timely essays on diverse aspects of feminism and media culture. I have also recently co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Visual Culture, on Internet Memes.
I have taught in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, where I developed courses on social media, consumption and identity, and queer identities in popular culture. I have also taught classes on fashion, subcultures and social movements, and advertising. See my Courses page for more information about past and future courses.
Follow me on Twitter, where I tweet as @lportwoodstacer.