“Discuss the Role of Power in Shaping the Distribution of Benefits and Losses in Consumer Society.

Discuss the role of power in shaping the distribution of benefits and losses in consumer society.

Today, there is a growing recognition amongst social scientists of the importance of consumerism in contemporary society. Namely because it can have an effect on all aspects of society.

In modern times, the average consumer identifies him/herself by what they buy rather than their jobs. ‘Consumer society’ is a relatively new term that started in the 1980's with the disappearance of many traditionally working class manufacturing jobs.   Before this downward turn, working class people were proud of their skills and identified strongly with their colleagues and there was a strong sense of solidarity amongst the workers both within and outside the factory. People now have a tendency to identify themselves in terms of what they buy and their leisure activities.

Various social scientists have set out to explain and define the different types of consumer and identify the reasons why people shop. For example, Bauman divides the consumer into the seduced and the repressed and they are defined by their ability to consume i.e. the seduced have the financial means to consume, have a stable job and have a good credit rating. By contrast the repressed may be unemployed, may not possess a good credit rating or be in low paid jobs without any future. One could argue that this is quite a simplistic concept as it does not take into account the people who do not like to shop in supermarkets for example as they are against them on principle. Even though they may be relatively well off. These people are neither ‘seduced’ or ‘repressed’. Following the credit crisis, many people who lost their jobs are no longer the ‘seduced’, but are now members of the ‘repressed’. Zygmunt Baumann (1988).

Whereas Veblen another social scientist   believes that consumers are driven to shop due to conspicuous consumption and the necessity to display their status in life. Veblen, T. (1899)

On the...