© 2018

The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism

New Extended Edition


Part of the Cultural Sociology book series (CULTSOC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. The Spirit of Modern Consumerism

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 49-49
    2. Colin Campbell
      Pages 77-105
    3. Colin Campbell
      Pages 107-130
    4. Colin Campbell
      Pages 131-155
  3. The Romantic Ethic

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 157-157
    2. Colin Campbell
      Pages 159-210
    3. Colin Campbell
      Pages 211-242
    4. Colin Campbell
      Pages 243-258
    5. Colin Campbell
      Pages 259-299
    6. Colin Campbell
      Pages 301-337
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 339-384

About this book


Originally published in 1987, Colin Campbell’s classic treatise on the sociology of consumption has become one of the most widely cited texts in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, and the history of ideas. In the thirty years since its publication, The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism has lost none of its impact. If anything, the growing commodification of society, the increased attention to consumer studies and marketing, and the ever-proliferating range of purchasable goods and services have made Campbell’s rereading of Weber more urgent still.  As Campbell uncovers how and why a consumer-oriented society emerged from a Europe that once embodied Weber’s Protestant ethic, he delivers a rich theorization of the modern logics and values structuring consumer behavior. This new edition, featuring an extended Introduction from the author and an Afterword from researcher Karin M. Ekström, makes clear how this foundational work aligns with contemporary theory in cultural sociology, while also serving as major influence on consumer studies.


consumerism consumption capitalism materialism consumer demand industrial revolution sentimentalism imaginative hedonism Max Weber Protestant Ethic Spirit of Capitalism self-consumption Calvinism Romanticism bohemianism romantic ethics modernism social theory sociology of consumption consumer behavior

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of YorkYorkUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Colin Campbell is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of York, UK. His previous books include The Easternization of The West (2007), The Shopping Experience (jointly edited with Pasi Falk, 1997), and The Myth of Social Action (1996), among others. 

Bibliographic information


“This long-awaited and long-overdue new edition of Colin Campbell's The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism reminds us—if anyone had really forgotten—that it is not only a modern classic, but also that it is of continuing importance to, among other areas of study, Weberian theory and the sociology of consumption.” (George Ritzer, Distinguished University Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland, USA)

“One of the essential books on consumption and consumerism. This second edition comes at an opportune time as Campbell’s explanation of modern consumerism is needed now more than ever. Whilst the original text is preserved, this second edition also includes new essays that allow us to appreciate the book’s contribution in the context of contemporary debates in consumption studies as well as sociological theory more generally.” (Ian Woodward, Professor of Sociology, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark)