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The Life and Death of Anthony Barbie: A Consumer Culture Tale of Lovers, Butlers, and Crashers

Consumer Culture Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78754-286-0, eISBN: 978-1-78754-285-3

Publication date: 10 April 2019


Purpose: The present research draws from neomaterialist theories to investigate women’s erotic consumption in Brazil, analyzing several stages of the consumption cycle, from need detection to disposal.

Methodology/Approach: Fieldwork followed the Itinerary Method, with 35 in-depth interviews and participant observation.

Findings: In addition to providing thick description of two consumption cycle stages, the chapter analyzes assemblages of material objects and people that are part of erotic consumption. The dialectical process that transforms consumers through the agency of erotic products also transforms products through repurpose or personification – as lovers, butlers, or party crashers – which, in turn, highlights these objects’ agentic nature. Erotic products are understood as possessing social life and death.

Practical Implications: This research uncovered a series of transformations performed by the object on the consumer (i.e., objectification of the consumer) and vice versa (i.e., personification of the object). These processes help understand tensions inherent to networks and assemblages formed during erotic consumption. They also suggest, along the consumption cycle, unmet consumer needs that may be tended to by industry, like disposal issues.

Social Implications: This study broadly aims at helping women to more freely exercise their sexuality (with the mediation of erotic products if they so desire) in a Latin-American patriarchal society where double moral standards regarding men and women still prevail.

Originality/Value of Chapter: This is one of the first studies conducted within consumer culture theory that focuses specifically on sexuality related consumption.




I would like to thank Eric Arnould and John Schouten for their valuable advice regarding this chapter. I also thank organizers, track leaders, reviewers, and audience at the 2018 CCT Conference for their time and helpful suggestions.


Walther, L. (2019), "The Life and Death of Anthony Barbie: A Consumer Culture Tale of Lovers, Butlers, and Crashers", Bajde, D., Kjeldgaard, D. and Belk, R.W. (Ed.) Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 23-38.



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