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Plastic: a passengerial marketplace icon

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/09/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Consumption, Markets and Culture
Issue number5
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)485-497
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date3/02/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We provide a critical reading of plastic in consumer culture highlighting its furtive omnipresence and supporting role in enabling the consumption of countless products, services, and brands, including many previously identified marketplace icons. We introduce the term “passengerial icon”
to explore how the iconicity of plastic is often characterised by its unobtrusive and inconspicuous presence in consumers’ lives. Like a passenger, plastic most typically accompanies consumers on various experiential journeys rather than drives them. Drawing upon Leder’s concept of
dys-appearance, we discuss the “absent presence” of passengerial icons as they tend to fade from consumers’ awareness, remaining present but unseen and unthought about until something
about them appears to dysfunction. We discuss the dysfunctional appearance of plastic as catalysed most dramatically by environmental and health consequences. Though plastic’s dys-appearance affects society broadly, it is often hermeneutically and fetishistically handled by individuals through precautionary consumption adjustments rather than collective political action.