Sociology and Consumer Society

Topics: Sociology, Wal-Mart, Asda Pages: 5 (1450 words) Published: July 3, 2012
Essay plan-

Introduction- Brief description on what a consumer society is? Topics being discussed

Main points- The seduced
The repressed- Concepts by Zygmunt Bauman Rich and the poor- social exclusion.
Campaigns against Tesco
STOP- Stop Tesco Owning Patrick
Market Power- Advantages and disadvantages Buying Power- Cost-Prices
Anti-Supermarket lobby
Pro-Supermarket lobby
Zero-sum game- Dennis Wrong
Positive-sum game
Power of the supermarket

Conclusion- Summary of the above
Divided opinion

TMA 2- Outline who are the winners and losers in a consumer society.

This essay will show how a consumer society contains both winners and losers based on concepts by Zygmunt Bauman. It will also show the difference between the repressed and the seduced, it will look at claims and counterclaims and finally the power of the large supermarkets using the concepts of Dennis Wrong. A consumer society is the society in which we all live, what we buy and why we buy them is what a lot of social scientists would call a ‘consumer society’. We fall into two categories, the seduced and the repressed according to the social scientist (Zygmunt Bauman, pg 25, making social lives. 2009). The seduced is by Bauman’s claims; the wealthier side of the consumer society, wearing the right brand of clothing or sporting the right logo identifies someone as belonging to a certain social group. For people to fit into that category they must have a high standing in the community or be able to show that they have sufficient income. Most of the seduced will be employed full-time with a wealthy lifestyle giving them the opportunity to purchase goods and services as they want them not just as they need them. If you are in the seduced category it gives you a higher social standing in the consumer society. Seduced consumers could be doctors, lawyers, businessmen, anyone with a positive identity. They are most likely to all live in a higher class area, have the luxuries of cars, laptops and mobile phones to list just a few. Failure in having those items would mean they may face social exclusion. The repressed are the opposite of the seduced. Bauman classes them as the lower class, probably non-working whether due to disabilities or lack of employment making social divisions. They cannot effectively participate. Also in this category would be low income families or part-time workers on temporary work placements.

The presence of a big new Tesco or Asda superstore for example has often been linked to the closure of the old family butcher or greengrocers shop. The losers in this battle are not only the smaller shops but also the people who would prefer to buy there meat or fresh produce at the neighbourhood store or local market. It is safe to assume that the power a supermarket has over smaller retailers has been around for some time. Since the 1960’s when supermarket chains started to expand through to the modern day where you are now likely to see a Tesco store on every corner in some towns. For most this has been a convenient way to shop, not only for locality, but for most, especially families the fact you can access almost anything all under one roof. However this isn’t the case for all. In certain areas there have been local residents who have set up campaigns one of which is STOP (Stop Tesco owning Patrick, pg. 62), which was set up in 2007 by the local residents of Patrick a town in Glasgow West of Scotland, they claim that a corporate superstore will erode the liveliness of their neighbourhood as well as destroying the smaller retailers. Also across the UK smaller retailers can’t compete with the buying power...

References: Bauman, Z. Hetherington, K., ‘One-stop shopping: the power of supermarkets’, in Taylor, S., Hinchcliffe, S.,Clarke,J, and Bromley, S. (eds) Making Social Lives, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
Stop Tesco Owning Patrick (STOP) (undated) [online], (Accessed 19 November 2008).
Wrong. D (1997) Power: Its forms, Bases and Uses, New Brunswick, NJ, and London, Transaction Publishers.
Allen. J (2009) ‘One-stop shopping: the power of supermarkets’, in Taylor,S.,Hinchcliffe,S.,Clarke,J, and Bromley,S. (Eds) Making Social Lives, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
I have enjoyed reading about different claims and counterclaims and finding the various references and pulling them all together.
I have found the conclusion challenging just trying to summarise the whole essay without sounding repetitive.
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