Inequalities: Sociology and Consumer Society

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A consumer society is best defined as the process in which goods and services are bought and used to satisfy people’s perceived needs (J.Obelkevich. 1994). The image of this consumer society can be described as one of individualism and freedom but it can also be marked by social divisions, inequalities and exclusions. This essay examines the relationships there are between consumerism, the social divisions this engenders and ultimately the choices, if any, this offers to people. It shows how our choices can be defined by the type of people we are, the way that we are perceived by others and our ability to consume. Consumption is now seen as the major aspect for many in our society and a dominant force in shaping all our identities.…show more content…
The transient represents the usual state of commodities as objects which are declining in value and which have finite life spans. Whereas the durable increase in value over time and have (ideally) infinite life spans (1979: 7). Thompson uses the example of a used car as a transient and Queen Anne tallboy as a durable. He further observes that their category membership determines the way we act towards them. Thompson argues that rubbish represents an important possible ‘in-between’ category in a ‘region of flexibility’ which is not subject to the same control mechanisms of the valuable and socially significant categories of transient and durable. Therefore it ‘is able to provide the path for the seemingly impossible transfer of an object from transience to durability’ (1979: 9) he further suggests that ‘a transient object gradually declining in value and in expected life-span may slide across into rubbish’ (1979: 9) where it has the chance of being re-discovered, brought to light or cherished once
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