Sociologists have different perspectives in relation to whether we are currently living in a consumer culture. A consumer culture refers to attitudes, behaviour and values that are influenced by the consumption of material goods. The concept of consumerism stresses the importance of economic prosperity and social cultures as they have an impact on human behaviour and lifestyles. Individuals are defined by what they consume and the material possession they own could either create pleasure or pain. Some sociologists may argue consumer culture is a fundamental part of society because individuals need material goods in order to survive. Sociologists have argued that consumerism affects every society whether directly or indirectly.
(Marx 1970) has discovered that the family plays a major role in sustaining capitalism. The family is considered to be a ‘unit of consumption’ who consume goods that are on offer such as ‘food’ and ‘clothing’. The capitalists insist on families consuming the latest products as they make profits by selling their merchandise and meeting the demands of consumers. The media target children as they are easily persuaded and they are able to ‘pester’ their parents into purchasing more items. For instance, food companies such as Mc Donald’s appeal to children because they are given incentives such as ‘toys’ with their meals, which encourages them to buy more food. Children who lack the latest gadgets are stigmatised at school as they are considered to be unpopular. Individuals want to seek approval from their peers, which causes them to attain more material goods to prevent themselves from being an outcast.
From a functionalist perspective (Murdock 1949) considers that the ‘nuclear family’ performs essential functions for a capitalist society. The mother reproduces a new generation of children, which is important for society because a new labour force is created. The workers make a major contribution to the
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