Consumption Creates New Social Divisions

Topics: Sociology, Retailing, Supermarket Pages: 5 (1405 words) Published: April 17, 2014
INTRODUCTION

-Introduce main aspects to be discussed in essay (new divides caused by consumption)

MAIN BODY

1st Social Division: Bauman’s theory

-Introduce repressed (who, why)

-Introduce seduced (who, why)

-Counter argument (Bauman’s simplified theory)

2nd Social Division: zero-sum/positive-sum, Dennis Wrong

-The High Street (decline) against large retail parks (thriving)

-Zero-sum game (supermarket power for personal benefit) (Tescopoly Alliance)

-Positive-sum game (supermarket power for everyone’s benefit) (pro-supermarket lobby)

CONCLUSION

-exploring concepts covered in essay (relating them to other theories)

-consumption important defining factor in current society but not simple or equal

-society constantly making and repairing itself

Outline the claim that consumption creates new social divisions.

Consumption is a defining factor in our current society; it both unites us and divides us in many ways. Through the claims and concepts brought to light by Bauman Zygmunt and Dennis Wrong I will attempt to shed light on these new divisions and use evidence to support this.

There are various social divisions based mainly on class and character that were observed in the past, some of these still remain but it is interesting to observe exactly what new divides consumption has created in recent times. Bauman claims that consumption has created new social divisions, the seduced and the repressed. He believes we live in a society that relies on the ability to express one's status in the form of material goods and services, but the possibility that one has to access these is exactly what separates the two groups. Bauman refers to the seduced as those who, because of their financial and social circumstances, are more able to consume effectively, for example those with more disposable income. In recently collected data by the ONS we can see that an average household spends more on re-creation and luxuries than it does on essentials (Source: ONS, 2008), (Hetherington, 2009, p. 24). This shows that people are interested in shopping for luxury and therefore seduced into the trappings of a consumer lifestyle that, as Bauman states, creates belonging, acceptance and membership within society.

But what about those excluded from these consumer services? Bauman defines the repressed as those who cannot participate in the everyday fripperies of the socially seduced. The unemployed and low-paid miss out simply by not having the financial resources to participate but there are also those who cannot participate due to mobility difficulties. This causes them to become physically excluded, a problem, which has arisen due to the lack of transport to the new retail outlets where the epitome of the seduction process takes place. Another group that is segregated are those with little or no access to a computer for example older people, those with mental illness or again those with little or no disposable income to spend on new technology. This group becomes socially excluded especially in this day and age where the Internet is one of consumer societies' most powerful weapons. As a whole the repressed become the ‘poor’ of the late industrial society, described as inadequate consumers, which leads to ‘social degradation’ or ‘internal exile’ (Bauman, cited in Best, 2005, p. 72).

Although Bauman’s concept seems quite adept at describing current society one could argue that it is not complex enough. His groups describe two simplified aspects of a divided society, who is to say we cannot fluctuate between them? Those who found themselves in the pre-recession years may have been in a better position to adhere to the seduced part of society, a few years later they may have found themselves leaning towards the repressed as the credit crunch took hold, “I think what we will see sort of subsequently is some shift back to a more unequal situation, perhaps, where fewer people could...
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