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Groundhog day? Nietzsche, Deleuze and the eternal return of prosumption in lifelong learning

Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


This conceptual article examines George Ritzer’s concept of prosumption in the context of lifelong learning in the United Kingdom. Ritzer’s references to prosumption as a form of eternal return of a ‘primal act’, which draw on the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and Gilles Deleuze, introduce some ambiguity into the concept. This ambiguity echoes a certain polarization in the debate about co-creation, especially regarding the nature of consumer participation in the creation of value, but it is central to defining the limits of consumer freedom and agency. Critical analysis of UK lifelong learning discourse shows how prosumption can work as a tool of control in this context, producing docile subjectivities, compliant forms of creative co-production and disposable ‘nothing’ products through repetition and a return of the same. Where prosumption is able to challenge this repetition, however, it involves creativity and the return of difference. These examples show how eternal return, ultimately, underpins prosumption’s claim to offer a valid description of emerging practices of prosuming lifelong learners.