Compare and Contrast the Changing Experiences of Consumers from the Year 1900 Until Present Day. How Do the Theories of Marz, Durkheim and Weber Help to Explain the Changing Consumer Experience and the Emergence of Contemporary Consumer Society

Topics: Sociology, Consumerism, Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, Consumption / Pages: 9 (2230 words) / Published: Jan 9th, 2013
Consumers Markets and Culture |

Compare and contrast the changing experiences of consumers from the year 1900 until present day. How do the theories of Marx, Durkheim and Weber help to explain the changing consumer experience and the emergence of contemporary consumer society?

“Until the eighteenth century the word consumption meant waste...” (Williams, 1976)

As consumers our experience of consumption today is exponentially different from that at the turn of the twentieth century in the recently urbanised and industrialised modern nation. Consumer culture is traditionally described in terms of the arrival of mass consumption as a counterpart to mass production as a result of the Fordist system (Miles, S). Choice is one of the biggest factors of the changing experience for consumers, during the 1950’s after the austerity years the now aging baby boomers were part of large scale changes to consumption patterns. For example as women began to enter the work place leaving less time to run the home, products were being developed to ease the burden of housework, washing machines, fridges and vacuum cleaners were among these products; the ever-growing use of hire purchase to enable consumers to afford these luxury products, combined with Fordist methods of mass production reducing the manufacturing cost of the products allowed the economy to grow strong once again. As television grew in popularity advertising was increasingly utilised by businesses to sell their products creating a far more impersonal environment while shopping for products. From this time the standard of living has been increasing up until present day (The Economist, 2008) with the aspirations of society increasing further still.

Marx presents his theories as a materialist understanding of society, explaining capitalism as an unequal system based on the exploitation of the lower class (Abercrombie N et al, 2006), a system based on surplus value being extracted, the capitalist’s



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