Historical Archaeology

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 25–28 | Cite as

Anxiety in the Consumer Shell

  • Paul R. MullinsEmail author


This commentary examines Michael Roller’s metaphor of the machine to describe the social conditioning associated with 20th-century mass consumption. Roller’s machinic mass consumerism evokes familiar anxieties in its illumination of the ways consumer materiality shapes human experience. The hazard is that machinic mass consumerism risks understating the everyday creativity, retreat, silence, and imagination that negotiate and upset the machinery of mass consumer culture.


En este comentario se examina la metáfora de la máquina de Michael Roller que se utiliza para describir el condicionamiento social asociado con el consumo de masas del siglo XX. El consumismo de masas "maquínico" evoca ansiedades familiares al iluminar las maneras en que la materialidad del consumidor moldea la experiencia humana. El riesgo es que el consumismo de masas maquínico corra el peligro de subestimar la creatividad, retiro, silencio e imaginación de la vida cotidiana que traspasan y alteran la maquinaria de la cultura de consumo de masas.


Le présent commentaire examine la métaphore de la machine de Michael Roller utilisée pour décrire le conditionnement social associé à la consommation en masse du 20e siècle. Le consumérisme « machinique » en masse de Roller évoque des anxiétés familières en faisant la lumière sur la façon dont la matérialité du consommateur donne forme à l’expérience humaine. Le danger est que le consumérisme machinique en masse minimise la créativité, le retrait, le silence et l’imagination de tous les jours qui négocient et remettent en question la culture de consommation en masse de la machinerie.



Thanks to Michael Roller for starting this discussion and including me in the conversation. Aidan Mullins-Pearson helped me clarify my thoughts on the machine metaphor in popular culture, and Chris Matthews provided helpful feedback on the paper. The author acknowledges no known conflict of interest influencing the paper’s content.


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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyIndiana University––Purdue University IndianapolisIndianapolisU.S.A.

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