Is Consumer Culture Destroying Cultural Difference Around the World?

Topics: Globalization, Consumerism, Culture Pages: 7 (2457 words) Published: March 9, 2011
Is consumer culture destroying cultural difference around the World?

In recent global affairs it appears there’s no question that any sombre theory in contemporary society cannot ignore the importance of consumption. The World Wide Web is an emblematic example of how the global society has accessed the modern world (Ritzer, 2001). Globalisation had been described as the “worldwide diffusion of practices, expansion of relations across continents, organisation of social life on a global scale, and growth of a shared global consciousness” (Ritzer, 2004). There is no doubt that the study of consumerism has been an area of steady growth particularly within cultural studies over the past decade (Bertelsen, 1996). For this reason there has been increasing suggestion that consumers and their behaviours deserve much more attention (Brinkmann, 2004) as consumption is production and production of good affects consumption, amongst other factors. Consumption is a social, economic and cultural process of choosing goods effectively reflecting the opportunities and constraints of modern society. Ultimately the global population has become a society of consumers, and now our global culture is becoming increasingly emergent. Because of global consumption is has now started to become the bridge to cultural institutions (Zukin, 2004), large scale social structure changes the opportunity to design peoples individual lifestyle. Consumer goods are an increasing part of public culture, shaped by various good and services. Advertisements and media (TV, magazine, radio ECT) promote products services and places i.e. shopping malls, websites and gift shops. It seems the extensive volume at which the consumerist society purchase commodity goods has resulted in a view that consumption has become a threat to social order and cultural variation around the world (Ritzer, 2001). There are strong views that the consumerist society stands for a kind of society which promotes and enforces a consumerist lifestyle and dislikes all alternative cultural options (Bertelsen, 1996). This consumerist society adapts to the perceptions of consumer culture and follows a peculiar set of conditions unquestionably as the approved choice within society.

Consumer culture had become so embryonic, mainly due to how well it has been produced by all the agents who work directly within the economy i.e. managers and marketers. These agents constantly criticise and market products to create the mass consumption system. It is this very system that has the potential to destroy global cultural difference as interconnected economic and cultural institutions have become centred on production of commodities for individual demand (Maguire, 2004). This paper intends to discuss the extent of the consumer culture and its damaging or positive influences on cultural differences. According to Hannerz (1996), the current contemporary world is characterised by an intense, interplay between the indigenous and the imported. This means no society can truly provide an authentic source of authentic meaning for any particular commodity or cultural form. This is a result of mass consumerism and demand creating product diversity and different uses of goods. Miller (1995) argues there is an increased genuine relativism within the globe stating there “are no longer inauthentic copies by people who have lost their culture”, rather an equality of genuine relativism making everyone creative variants of social processes based on possession and use of goods. Despite this, Millers view has been largely challenged as theories such as Americanisation and ‘grobalisation’ emphasise aims towards a lack of cultural, industrial and economical choice in society. The consumer culture focuses itself on consumers from an early stage coercing pressures from early childhood (Bertelsen, 1996). A constant focus on commodities through the media and advertisement creates members of society who are able to inhabit and...

References: Ali, M (2007) “Globalisation: It’s Effects”. International Business & Economics Research Journal, 1 (6) pp. 89-96.
Bauman, Z (2007) Consuming Life. Cambridge: Policy Press.
Bertelsen, E (1996). “Post Mod-cons: Consumerism and Cultural Studies”. A South-North Journal of Cultural & Media Studies, 1, (10) pp. 87-107.
Ger, G. (1997) “Human Development and Humane Consumption: Well-Being beyond the ‘Good Life’”. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 1 (16) pp. 110-125.
Jackson, P (2004). “Local Consumption Cultures in a Globalising World”. Royal Geography society, pp. 165-178.
Ritzer, G (2001) Theories’ of Consumption. London: Sage publications.
Zukin, S; Maguire, J (2004). “Consumers and Consumption”. Annual Review of Sociology, 30 pp. 173-197.
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