Will Consumerism Change Its Face In The Future?
On the one hand, plenty of written books and articles on the subject of consumerism should make it no big difficulty to write an essay devoted to this topic. But on the other hand, it would take me a year to review even not all of them but the most popular ones, which is definitely beyond my timeframe. Moreover, the amount of ideas already expressed in those works make it harder for any non-specialist to come up with something new. Still I will try to make my own conclusions on the impact and future prospects of the phenomenon, rather than just describe here some scientific points of view. Consumerism is a product of Late Modernity, even though the basic consumption of goods existed since people had started to produce goods not only for their household’s needs but for sale as well. A major role in the development of mass consumption was contributed by the creation of the assembly line, which was initially invented by an automobile-maker Ransom E. Olds in 1901 and later improved by Henry Ford (although the latter became world-known “father of automotive assembly line”). Ford’s famous phrase “I will build a car for the great multitude” perfectly fits the concept of consumer society. From the point of industrial production when it became possible to significantly reduce the production costs due to economies of scale, more and more people could afford to themselves larger diversity of goods, not only those for basic needs. This probably made a groundbreaking shift in consumer’s psychology, making the buying ritual not only the necessary activity to sustain the living but increasingly turning it into the means of social differentiation and self-identification. However, I would view globalization, which has gained its momentum in Postmodernity years, as the real driver of consuming behavior, enabling producers and consumers from all over the world to become the participants of the integrated global market, which has almost no geographical or commodity limits. The development of marketing tools, especially advertising technologies, has further forced the consuming process to grow to unprecedented scale, which together with the tendency of constantly increasing population give grounds to the serious universal concerns. Consumer society might be characterized by its use of leisure time for spending money on such activities as shopping, travel, entertainment and for its belief that owning things is the primary means of achieving happiness. In such society individual lifestyles and identity become linked to consuming activities, therefore consumerism can be viewed as the acceptance of consumption behavior as the way of self-development and self-realization. It is important to understand that the roots of consumerism lie in the social structure and social behaviour to find out the methods and policies of decreasing the effects that consumption produces on our being. Though consumerism can be viewed from different perspectives – political, economical or social – in my research I will mostly concentrate on how it is understood and perceived by the social sciences. As we all are already the part of consuming society and we have to experience in different ways the impacts of that phenomenon on our life, I think the subject might be of real interest and relevance to study. Therefore I am going to make an insight in the theories of consumerism, then define the influence it may have on the various aspects of society and finish the essay with my conclusions on whether it is possible to change the consumer profile in the future. Theories of consumerism and its impact on the society
To differentiate various theories on consumption, I will divide the concepts into three approaches: structural, individual and based on social practices. A structural approach considers the influence of social norms, built infrastructure and large political (such as the government) and economic...
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