Literacy is a continuous, multidimensional indicator of proficiency in using written language. This essay reviews several recent books on literacy, and suggests some profound theoretical issues about consumer behavior inspired by a sociocultural perspective on literacy. In particular, ties between literacy and six diverse research programs on consumer behavior are highlighted: responses to persuasion; affect and decision making; the meanings of products and brands; social marketing of health behaviors; consumption, identity, and resistance; and the impact of the internet on consumer behavior. In addition, questions both interesting and troubling about the impact of consumption on literacy are raised in the hope of encouraging future research. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.
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