Shopping is not merely an obligation

October 6th, 2010 by | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I love how Daniel Miller makes his fieldwork so simple by just meeting up some locals in his hometown, London, and observe how they shop in a supermarket.  Reading the first chapter of his book, A Theory of Shopping, made me think differently how my family shops.  In the first chapter, Making Love in Supermarkets, Miller speaks about how he saw in his fieldwork that people were not merely shopping as an obligation.  In other words, housewives weren’t shopping for food just to feed the family but also to express their love.

Miller mentioned a woman named Mrs. Wynn, whom he observed her shopping for food and clothes.  She purchases healthy food often such as lots of vegetables because she’s concerned about her family’s well-being and has to ‘look after the person who otherwise becomes ill.’  When I read about this, it made me think about my family’s act of shopping.  When my mother shops for grocery, she always buys healthy, low-calories, low-cholesterol and organic food because she is concerned about her family’s health especially the fact that we have a family history of heart-diseases.  As Miller stated about Mrs. Winn’s shopping is an act of love, my mom’s shopping experience does also reflect love too:

“…her shopping is primarily an act of love, that in its daily conscientiousness becomes one of the primary means by which relationships of love and care are constituted by practice  That is not to say, shopping does not merely reflect love, but is a major form in which  this love is manifested and reproduced.”

Besides shopping for an act of love, it also an act of giving or receiving a treat.  For instance, some wives consider shopping for ‘ready meals’ a treat because she gets a break from making the effort to cook:

“Yes, I actually see ready meals as treats too because it’s a treat for me actually coming home from work to be able to just stick something in the oven.”

My family loves to go to a gourmet food store like Marks & Spencer mentioned in the book, often not only because my mom gets a break from cooking but also we get to choose which ever food we would like to eat for the evening rather than being restricted to what’s on the table.  Thus it’s a real treat for my siblings and me to make the choice to eat what we choose for dinner.

Look out for another blog entry on the first chapter of the book coming in the next few days.

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