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Desire, fantasy and control: An investigation of the consumer imagination.


This dissertation uses depth interviews to examine how consumers of a heavily taboo and stigmatized good make sense of their own behavior within a particular cultural order. By focusing primarily on desire as the fundamental movement guiding the meaning-making process of consumption, issues such as the consumer imagination, passion, and guilt are explored within the context of complex consumer rituals. Turning to poststructural theorists---Michael Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Judith Butler and Georges Batailles---the dissertation proposes that any desire is surrounded by a heavily normative and prescriptive society and thus inevitably torn between its own liberation and subjugation. Challenging the current trend of consumer behavior research to focus on postmodern aspects of consumption as playful, liberating and self-empowering, this dissertation finally supports the argument that consumer desire is profoundly meaningful for researchers precisely in that it demonstrates consumers' greatest challenge to and reflection of cultural values and beliefs.