Waves of Virtual Consumption among Contemporary Iranians: A Critical Cultural Analysis within the Context of Consumption Studies Paradigms

Document Type : Original Article


University of Tehran


As a cultural phenomenon, consumption is one of the key concepts for
understanding modern societies, because modern man’s lifestyle, aesthetic taste
and desires are strongly dependent on his/her cultural consumption. A literature
review in the tradition of consumption studies demonstrates that at least three
paradigm shifts in consumption theories have taken place: Consumption as a
passive act, consumption as a communicative act, and consumption as an act of
resistance. As a consequence of these paradigm shifts, the practice of consuming
cultural commodities has become the focus of attention in Cultural Studies with
an emphasis on the discussion of this practice. With this epistemology at hand, the
present paper situated itself within the context of consumption studies paradigms
to explain contemporary Iranians’ consumption behavior within the cyberspace
known as “virtual consumption”, which is of cultural and ideological significance
for cultural analysts. Accordingly, the three waves of virtual consumption theorized
by Lehdonvirta (2009) were reframed into the Iranian context to see if and to what
extent there exists a correspondence between them.