Dd101 Tma2: Outline Who Are the Winners and Losers in a Consumer Society

Outline who are the winners and losers in a consumer society

According to many social scientists the contemporary western society is a consumer society. A society in which individual status, identity and lifestyle and is not only determined by occupation but by what people buy and how they put to use or dispose of their acquisitions as well as their ability to participate in ‘consuming’. And as such, the consumer society creates a division between those who benefit and those who are disadvantaged whether as individuals, groups or organizations (Hetherington, 2009).

In the following essay I will use Bauman’s theory of the seduced and the repressed and Wrong’s concept of the zero-sum and positive-sum power to describe who the winners and losers are in a consumer society.

Bauman argues that in a contemporary society “consumption is the dominant feature…rather then production and work” (Hetherington, 2009, p.27). Certain jobs, for example manual jobs, that in the past used to be considered as lower status can now provide enough disposable income to give the person access to a higher status and a certain lifestyle through consumption.   However in Bauman’s view the society still remains divided; in the past this division was seen as a class division between the working class, middle class and upper class, and in today’s consumer society this division is between those that have the ability to ‘consume effectively’ and those that do not (Hetherington, 2009). Bauman refers to these categories of society as ‘the seduced’ and the ‘repressed’; for him ‘the seduced’ are those that have the ability to consume beyond the bare necessities and as such have access to a lifestyle and status they aspire to. The acquisition of goods and services through markets that offer a range of choices provides ‘the seduced’ with the opportunity for self-expression and gives them a sense of belonging and a status within a consumer society (Hetherington, 2009). According to Bauman it is...