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Transcript of Consumption
Theoretical Perspectives- Featherstone
The Consumer Identity continued...
This creates a real concern for consumers - how can they afford the goods they require to maintain their identities? Further, Western consumers do not establish profound relationships with the majority of goods they consume.
Children and adolescents are growing up in an era where their likes, dislikes, choices of clothing, hairstyles and possessions are all tied to image and identity and determines who they make friends with. Young people are targeted consumers as they are continously trying on different identities and consumerism facilitates these ever changing identities in a way class, gender and race cannot. Consumer identities are disposable!
Your Lifestyle has Already Been Designed
Consumption in its simplest form can be defined as the act of purchasing and using either goods or services.
"Shopping is not merely the acquisition
of things: it is the buying of identity."
(Clammer, 1992:195 in Gabriel & Lang 2006)
Consumption and Identity
As discussed over the course of this semester, identity is centre stage of contemporary politics, culture and consumption. Class, gender and sexual orientation occupy a portion of our identity but consumption has opened up a new possibility of identity.
The material and consumption culture both supports and undermines efforts to create and maintain identity. The possession of goods temporarily boosts identity, self-image and self-esteem. Consumer culture however, creates a long-term dissatisfaction, dependency and meaningless life.
Consumers today can buy themselves different identities through clothing, home wares, hairstyles and even cosmetic surgery. The following video explains the consumer lifestyle:
Featherstone emphasises the role of desire and pleasure in consumer activities. He argues that the construction of ‘lifestyle’ is the main goal of consumers and that we strive to make our lives more meaningful and in fact more beautiful through the purchase of goods, Featherstone (1991). It’s difficult to argue against this point as the marketing of consumer products worldwide tends to focus on the beautification of not only ourselves but also our homes and ultimately our lifestyle. Consumption, or the purchase of goods and services, has become so prominent that we are now a consumer based society rather than the production based society which we once were and we now view consumption as a form of 'play' or leisure activity rather than purely a trade for what you need.
The Story of Stuff (2007) - Ch.5: Consumption.
Cain, D 2013, 'Your lifestyle has already been designed' 13 November 2013.
David Cain: Blog
. Available from: http://www.raptitude.com/2010/07/your-lifestyle-has-already-been-designed/
Featherstone, M 1991,
Consumer, Culture and Modernism
, Sage Publications, London.
Gabriel, V & Lang, T 2006,
The Unmanageable Consumer
, 2nd edn, Sage Publications, London.
Pearce, F 2009, 'Consumption dwarfs population as main enviromental threat',
, viewed 04 May 2015, http://e360.yale.edu/feature/consumption_dwarfs_population_as_main_environmental_threat/2140/
Royce, E 2015,
Classical Social Theory and Modern Society Marx, Durkheim, Weber
, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland.
Annie Leanord. 2007. The Story of Stuff - Ch.5: Consumption. [Online Video].
03 December. Available from: http://www.storyofstuff.com/ [Accessed: 04 May 2015].
Journeyman Pictures, n.d. Consumed - Is Our Consumer Culture Leading to Disaster? [Online Video]. Available from: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=bOKl04TWVsU [Accessed 15 May 2015].
Journeyman Pictures, n.d. Would You Still Buy That Dress After Watching This? [Online Video]. Available from: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=t_mA9L1DSr8
Steve Cutts, 2012. Man, [Online Video]. Available from: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=WfGMYdalClU. [Accessed 12 May 2015].
1. What are your consumption habits and how have they changed over the course of your life? What do you think has influenced this change?
2. Have you measured your carbon footprint? Does this influence how you live now?
3. In the next video,Pearce (2009), highlights that the worlds population needs to be reduced and birth rates will come down in time. However in the push for greater globilization and Neoliberalist policies employed by major governments around the world, how do we as individuals, push for change from a market driven economy?
4. After viewing the final Youtube video 'Would you buy that dress' how do you feel about your purchasing choices?
The concept of ‘Marx capitalism is a system of generalised commodity production where goods are produced to be sold for profit, where labour power itself is a commodity’ (Edward, 2015, p39). In the production of the commodity, Marx believes the Capitalists exploit the working class in two ways, firstly the workers get paid for their days work and are paid the value of their labour power. The Capitalist, however, gets paid on ‘the value labour power creates’ (Edward, 2015, p42) and realising surplus value. How does this work? The Capitalist pays the worker $100 a day, however, over that day he has produced commodities worth $200, realising $100 excess productivity. The other way the worker may be exploited is by increased production, either by encouraging the workers to work longer hours for the same pay or a push for increased productivity.
The term False Consciousness (Marx) puts forward the notion that workers are encouraged to participate in the consumption of these commodities and this enables the system to flourish.
It is germane to note, Edward (2015) quotes Marx as stating "Production appears as the aim of mankind and wealth as the aim of production" (Edward, 2015, p33).
Given the above theory of production please read the following article -
Caitlyn Tessier, Deb Walker,
Vinnie Tuhega, Rachel Taylor