The posthuman: the end and the beginning of the human

Norah Campbell, Trinity College Dublin
Aidan O'Driscoll, Dublin Institute of Technology
Michael Saren, University of Leicester

Document Type Article

Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 2010, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 86-101


Posthumanism is used as a collective term to understand “any discursive or bodily configuration that displaces the human, humanism, and the humanities” (Halberstam and Livingston 1995:vii, emphasis added). There are compelling reasons for introducing posthumanism to consumer research. Consumer research often theorises technology as an externalised instrument that the human creates, uses, and controls. In the 21st century we are beginning to realise that, far from being a mere tool, technology is the centre of critical thought about culture and about nature. It has recently been suggested that marketing and consumer research now need to think about technology in a manner which reflects its ubiquity, its deeper symbolic and aesthetic dimensions, and the ways in which it can radically change humanness and human-centred approaches to researching the world. Posthumanism is fundamental to theorising humanness in an era that is witnessing the complexification of new technologies. To follow a posthuman mode of thinking will lead to important ethical and metaphysical insights.