The Consumer Society Essay

3590 Words 15 Pages
“People recognise themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobiles, hi-fi sets, split level homes………social control is anchored in the new needs which the consumer society has produced." (Marcuse,1968:24)To what extent are we controlled by the consumer society we live in?

The rise of the consumer culture is a phenomenon characteristic for the twentieth century. The impact of this cultural movement is disputable.

The quote above was taken from Marcuse’s book “One dimensional man.”(1964) Marcuse believed that the products of consumer capitalism indoctrinate and manipulate society to promote a false consciousness of needs which become a way of life. He saw this as another form of totalitarianism which binds
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He argues that in the age of consumption the identities are negotiated though consumption, with which he means that we define ourselves more and more by what we consume. His last characteristic to the definition of consumer culture is that Consumer Culture represents the increasing importance of Culture in the exercise of power.

Ritzer (1999) refers to the places in which consumption takes place “cathedrals of consumption.” He argues that there are obvious cathedrals of consumption such as the supermarket, internet shopping or the shopping malls, but also ordinary everyday locations, which we would not associate with consumption, such as the railway station, the library or even our living room at home. Everywhere we go we are surrounded by cathedrals of consumption which aim to entice us to consume.

Once can detect three different theories, to the power of these cathedrals of consumption. Weberian theory leads to the view that the cathedrals of consumption, when taken together, create a rationalized iron cage from which it is difficult, if not impossible, to escape. This is totally commodified world in which it would be futile, or nearly so, to hope to find a space in which one is free from commercial pressure.
Supportive of this view is the proliferation of the new means of consumption, especially their spread into the home, so that even one is unable to avoid opportunities
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