life

Consumption of work and the work of consumption

Today, work and consumption are notably blurred. Consumption matters are found to make inroads into the realm of work, while consumption gains traction in the domain of production. This special issue of ephemera gets to the heart of this phenomenon. Covering a range of themes – genetic testing, self-quantification, migration, popular media and modern workplaces – the contributions to this issue call attention to the ethico-politics of productive and consumptive aspects of contemporary life.

The working unwell

‘Be well’. This is what you hear now at the checkout counter at Walgreens, the largest drugstore chain in America. Employees offer this valediction as they hand over the receipt, and it comes across as eerily sincere. In fact, the phrase was so effective at rattling me out of my consumerist stupor that I said it back – ‘Be well as well’ – but it didn’t quite come out the same way. It sounded mangled, faux-British, and for some strange reason I raised my voice at the end, turning it into a question. I left feeling confused.

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