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Digital media present opportunities for new types of consumption including desiring, buying, collecting, making, and even selling digital virtual goods. To these activities we can add those taking place in virtual communities of consumption, online shops, brand websites, and online auction houses that together amount to a vast new landscape of consumption. Digital virtual consumption motivates concatenated practices which produce meaningful experience for their users as well as market opportunities to profit from them. Consumers create and maintain elaborate wish lists, engaging with simulations of brands on websites and in videogames, coveting items for use in online games and even spending ‘real’ money on these, undertaking entrepreneurial activity in virtual worlds, conjuring nostalgia via online auctions, engaging in playful consumption in other new retail formats, writing reviews of products as part of the consumption experience, engaging in online activist activities, and many other emerging behaviors.

Analyses of consumption in the digital virtual realm are however limited. This collection brings together experienced researchers from the fields of consumer research, digital games, and virtual worlds to provide conceptual and empirical work that helps us understand these new and significant consumer activities. Online communities negotiate the ‘correct’ use of goods and offer technical advice, consumers develop new products, individuals create and distribute their own promotional material for their favorite brands, and entrepreneurial consumers marketing and selling their own products online. Here we may see a blurring of consumption and production, or work and leisure activity that requires further thought about what makes it meaningful for individuals. The chapters in this volume take stock of the emergence and likely importance of digital virtual consumption for consumer culture, including a review of both new and existing conceptual and methodological tools as well as a resource of key examples and analyses of practices.

Until recently government policy in the UK has encouraged an expansion of Higher Education to increase participation and with an express aim of creating a more educated workforce. This expansion has led to competition between Higher Education institutions, with students increasingly positioned as consumers and institutions working to improve the extent to which they meet ‘consumer demands’.

Especially given the latest government funding cuts, the most prevalent outlook in Higher Education today is one of business, forcing institutions to reassess the way they are managed and promoted to ensure maximum efficiency, sales and ‘profits’. Students view the opportunity to gain a degree as a right, and a service which they have paid for, demanding a greater choice and a return on their investment. Changes in higher education have been rapid, and there has been little critical research into the implications. This volume brings together internationally comparative academic perspectives, critical accounts and empirical research to explore fully the issues and experiences of education as a commodity, examining:

the international and financial context of marketisation the new purposes of universities the implications of university branding and promotion league tables and student surveys vs. quality of education the higher education market and distance learning students as ‘active consumers’ in the co-creation of value changing student experiences, demands and focus.

With contributions from many of the leading names involved in Higher Education including Ron Barnett, Frank Furedi, Lewis Elton, Roger Brown and also Laurie Taylor in his journalistic guise as an academic at the University of Poppleton, this book will be essential reading for many.

Digital media present opportunities for new types of consumption including desiring, buying, collecting, making, and even selling digital virtual goods. To these activities we can add those taking place in virtual communities of consumption, online shops, brand websites, and online auction houses that together amount to a vast new landscape of consumption. Digital virtual consumption motivates concatenated practices which produce meaningful experience for their users as well as market opportunities to profit from them. Consumers create and maintain elaborate wish lists, engaging with simulations of brands on websites and in videogames, coveting items for use in online games and even spending ‘real’ money on these, undertaking entrepreneurial activity in virtual worlds, conjuring nostalgia via online auctions, engaging in playful consumption in other new retail formats, writing reviews of products as part of the consumption experience, engaging in online activist activities, and many other emerging behaviors.

Analyses of consumption in the digital virtual realm are however limited. This collection brings together experienced researchers from the fields of consumer research, digital games, and virtual worlds to provide conceptual and empirical work that helps us understand these new and significant consumer activities. Online communities negotiate the ‘correct’ use of goods and offer technical advice, consumers develop new products, individuals create and distribute their own promotional material for their favorite brands, and entrepreneurial consumers marketing and selling their own products online. Here we may see a blurring of consumption and production, or work and leisure activity that requires further thought about what makes it meaningful for individuals. The chapters in this volume take stock of the emergence and likely importance of digital virtual consumption for consumer culture, including a review of both new and existing conceptual and methodological tools as well as a resource of key examples and analyses of practices.

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