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Early Modern Ottoman Coffeehouse Culture and the Formation of the Consumer Subject

We examine the sociohistorical formation of the consumer subject during the development of consumer culture in the context of leisure consumption. Specifically, we investigate how an active consumer was forming while a coffeehouse culture was taking shape during early modern Ottoman society. Utilizing multiple historical data sources and analysis techniques, we focus on the discursive negotiations and the practices of the consumers, the marketers, the state, and the religious institution as relevant stakeholders. Our findings demonstrate that multiparty resistance, enacted by consumers and marketers, first challenged the authority of the state and religion and then changed them. Simultaneously and at interplay with various institutional transformations, a public sphere, a coffeehouse culture, and a consumer subject constructing his self-ethics were developed, normalized, and legalized. We discuss the implications of the centrality of transgressive hedonism in this process, as well as the existence of an active consumer in an early modern context.