“Consumer Society Gives People Choice.” Discuss This Claim.

Topics: Sociology, Conspicuous consumption, Game theory Pages: 4 (1286 words) Published: May 10, 2011
“Consumer society gives people choice.” Discuss this claim. UK society in the past has been described as an industrial society with social classes being defined around a person’s employment status. Consequently, only those who were very wealthy and had surplus income were considered consumers. However, with developments in technologies, an increased amount of workers in “white collar” jobs and shifts in living costs, the term “consumer society” is one which suggests our contemporary life styles are represented by the purchasing of products and services and how society interprets the choices made available. This essay will look at discussing the extent to which a consumer society gives people choices, examining social, economic, and geographic factors in relation to theories and concepts raised by social scientists such as Zygmunt Bauman, Thorstein Veblen and Warren Susman. It will use these theories to evaluate the real choices offered by supermarkets, which play a major role in modern day consumption. For many, consuming is not only about essential purchases to live, but also buying into a favoured lifestyle and gaining a desired social kudos with an ability to consume. Zygmunt Bauman’s concept of seduced and repressed consumers illustrates inequalities and differences created by a consumer society. Bauman suggests “We live in a consumer society where divisions are entrenched not by class, but by the economic ability to consume” (Hetherington, 2009, p.25). Seduced consumers not only have access to finances to make certain purchases, but also knowledge of what commodities will gain them access into their preferred social status and how to obtain such items. In contrast, repressed consumers may find the choices offered to them somewhat limited due to constraints such as lack of finances, geographical placements, disabilities or lack of knowledge about consumer trends. Within Bauman’s concept of the seduced, lies the theory of Conspicuous Consumption, the result...
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