Outline Who Are the Winners and Losers in a Consumer Society.

1322 Words Oct 27th, 2011 6 Pages
Consuming has always played an important part in the shaping of society. It is through consumption that society is able to grow; providing economic stability, numerous jobs and services to the masses. Over the years, people began to consume not only the goods that they needed to live, but many more luxury goods to complement their lifestyles. Society today places a high value on owning many things, and is more dependent than ever on the population’s spending to maintain a healthy economic environment. A society of this type is known as a consumer society. The success of a consumer society depends on the level of disposable income its participants have. It can offer security and belonging to those who are able to consume efficiently, …show more content…
The change in consumption can be seen in Thorstein Veblen’s study of the newly rich in nineteenth century America (The Theory of the Leisure Class 1899.) Detailing how people often bought things to make a positive impression on their peers, he shows how people began acquiring material goods to convey a message to others regarding their wealth and rising social status, and states how the goods they bought were used to demonstrate their success and character, enabling them to be accepted in wealthy circles. Consuming was made more accessible in the UK by the arrival of department stores in the late 1860s. Shop owners identified women as their main clientele and designed department stores to be a safer, public alternative to the street. Selling high volumes of mass produced goods which were often cheaper than other stores they were available in, department stores enticed a new crowd of consumers. The ability of Victorian women to shop without a chaperone was a completely new experience for the time, and granted them a new kind of freedom. As retail parks become more fashionable, they offer not only the convenience of a wide variety of goods in one place but also social inclusion for those able to consume there. Peter Jackson’s study (Jackson 1998) in North London in the mid-1990s, found that most people had a positive view of retail parks, and described how they were seen as safe, convenient, modern places for families with cars to shop; a
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