Discuss the Role of the Concepts of the Seduced and the Repressed for Understanding the Place of Consumption in Contemporary Consumer Society.

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Discuss the role of the concepts of the seduced and the repressed for understanding the place of consumption in contemporary consumer society.

Baumann's theory of the seduced and repressed depicts modern society as one where consumption dominates people's material existence and helps to understand the division between the included (seduced) and excluded (repressed). In this essay I will discuss this concept of seduction and repression and highlight some of its strengths as well as some of its shortcomings by drawing on the theories and statements of other social scientists and by looking at the historical emergence of the consumer society. Until the latter part of the twentieth century societies in industrialised Europe were referred to as "industrial societies" in which people's identities were defined by the social norms of their class or their professions. Since then, aided initially by the development of department stores and a retail orientated infrastructure, a shift away from a production dominated economy to one motivated by consuming has led to the use of the label "consumer society", in which consumption has become the delineating factor. Consumption, in this context, means the purchase of goods, services and experiences and the consequent usage of these commodities. The term consumer society therefore identifies a society which is defined as much by what people use as by what they do (Hetherington, 2009) and where the processes of consumption have a central role. The changes in the role of consumption in society prompted Zygmunt Baumann (cited in Hetherington, 2009) to replace the old class divisions with two different social categories: the seduced and the repressed. The seduced represent members of our society that have the means to buy into the imagery of the in-crowd, that are of the right age and have the right physique. Their social identities are characterised by lifestyles that reflect choices, self expression, a sense of belonging and...
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