Write an essay that outlines that a consumer society is a divided society

8 August 2016

The principal purpose of this essay is to identify the key facts which substantiate the opinion that a consumer society is a divided society. I will examine the changes in consumer habits during the industrial and consumer societies and look at what primary factors create divisions and why. I will be using course materials ranging from written, audio and visual to determine this. 1. Definition of consumer society 2. Industrial and consumer society I will be looking at how consuming and consumer habits have changed over the different periods.

Social factors and divisions To identify the social factors that plays a part in consumer society and to identify how divisions are made in society and why? 4. The seduced and repressed To demonstrate how members of society fall into either the seduced or repressed category, and why? 5. Conclusion To show that I have understood the question by analysing the course material and forming a conclusion that substantiates the opinion in question. Write an essay that outlines that a consumer society is a divided society.

Write an essay that outlines that a consumer society is a divided society Essay Example

Consumer society is a term used by social scientists that relates to people’s purchasing habits and how they dispose of these items, their personal skills, achievements and employment status within society (Bromley, 2009, p. 13). The term consumer society was introduced sometime after the decline of the industrial society, some 30 or so years ago. Social scientists discovered that what society had viewed as important during the industrial times had changed dramatically to what society viewed as important in contemporary society.

The emphasis went from society focusing on mass production and work using large-scale power driven machinery during the industrial times, to society focusing on consumption of products and services, not just for important everyday necessities, but were also used to create personal identities and lifestyles, for pleasure, out of habit or just to fit in. Society has been a divided society as far back as the industrial era and probably before that time. During the industrial period people were defined as upper, middle or lower class.

The categorisations by class indicate there were obvious inequalities between members of society back then. It also tells you that the upper class were the wealthiest and able to, because of their wealth and status, consume effectively. To consume effectively means that you are able to afford the luxurious products and services that possibly the middle, but definitely the lower class could not afford. Further, to possibly owning and running a successful business that helped to shape the industrial society.

Effective consuming was only available to the wealthy until late in the nineteenth century, when consuming became available to the majority rather than just the minority. This was a huge turning point in shaping today’s modern contemporary society. It should be noted that divisions are still apparent in modern society, however not defined by class. The main, but not the only factors that determine divisions within any society are wealth and status, and at times that wealth and status brings power. Wealth allows you to have the best of everything, but power can be very influential within the right circles.

For example, a supermarket wants to extend its chain by erecting a store on a desolate site in Glasgow. During the process for consideration, there are residents’ against the proposed development, whilst others are for it. Anti-supermarket campaigners feel that supermarkets limit freedom and shopping choices, as local shops are unable to compete and get pushed out, whilst pro-supermarket campaigners feel that it extends their choices, as well as creating employment (Bromley, 2009, p. 69, p. 71). This is a good example of a divided society in modern times.

It has also been suggested by social scientists that there are other social factors that play a huge part in consumer society that helps them to understand consuming and consumer habits. Education, employment, media influence, retailers and goods sold are some of the other factors that need to be considered when observing consumers in a consumer society (Bromley, 2009, p. 21). In the opinion of social scientist Zygmunt Bauman, (cited in Bromley, 2009, p. 25), we are now living in an unequal consumer society as opposed to an unequal industrial society.

He further reinforces the point that inequalities do exist today, but they are very different to those during the industrial times. He further maintains that people in contemporary society could be divided into two groups – the seduced and the repressed. Bauman’s interpretations of the seduced were not only consumers who had wealth and status, but also included individuals who had stable employment with enough income to consume effectively, those who had products and services to sell to a lucrative market and also those who were able to acquire credit through lenders.

The market offers freedom of choice and because of this some consumers consumed by buying into the principles of consumer society, which allowed them to use these products and services to create their own lifestyles and personal identities. This made people feel worthy and accepted within society. It gave them a sense of belonging. In the industrial times this was achieved by acquiring skill related secure employment and through citizenship rights. Bauman, therefore felt that the seduced “are those in a position to be admitted to membership in society…are able to consume effectively in the eyes of others” (Bromley, 2009, p.

At the end of the nineteenth century, social scientist Thorstein Veblen, (cited in Bromley, 2009, p. 31), studied the rich and successful industrialists and their families. He states that people bought things as a means of displaying their wealth and for making an impression on others. “He found that they bought things for a particular reason:…make a positive impression and to demonstrate to others their newly acquired wealth…”. (Bromley, 2009, p. 31). The items that people bought to impress others became extensions of those people.

Veblen referred to this as conspicuous consumption as it was buying goods and services to reflect ones wealth and status to others, the usefulness of the product or service and most of all, the message it sent out to others. These people would fall into the seduced category. As mentioned previously, all societies have divisions of some kind, which means that some can and some cannot participate within a group or consume effectively. Within consumer society, Bauman refers to those who cannot as the repressed. These are the members of society who are excluded from the included (seduced), society.

“There is another group…who are excluded…. These people he calls the repressed”. (Bromley, 2009, p. 28). The repressed would include, but not limited to, the unemployed, migrants, elderly people on state pensions and people with disabilities. The absence of secure employment and a steady income made it, not impossible, but in the eyes of others (effective consumers), not seen to consume effectively, because they are unable to afford products and services at the higher end of the market, or achieve success which could amount to recognisable wealth and status .

The repressed are made to feel excluded for trivial reasons like not having a computer or mobile phone, as in contemporary society most people do, or not keeping up with the latest fashions, music, lingo etc. Further, people with disabilities may feel excluded purely because money is limited, as most of it might be used for items imperative to their care e. g. prescriptions, food etc. Unfortunately, because some disabled people are unable to contribute to society in a positive way they are looked upon as societies failures.

“They are more likely to be excluded from…and seen as somehow failed members of society”. (Bromley, 2009, p. 29). This would also relate to people who live on or below the poverty line, as it would be fair to say that all of their money, which is often very limited, is only enough to barely meet the demands of everyday living expenses. It is therefore concluded that consumer society is a divided society. There are many reasons for these divisions, wealth and status being the main, but not the only factors.

In order to be included into a consumer society it is a requirement that you are able to consume effectively, in the eyes of those who do. People create their own lifestyles and personal identities which allow them to express who or what they want to be. People who are unable to consume effectively are excluded from those that do. The seduced are looked upon as the achievers in a consumer society, whilst the repressed are the non-achievers.

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