Explore the Claim That Consumer Society Is Characterised by Freedom of Choice

I will be drawing information from ‘Making Social Lives’ – Chapter 1 (Hetherington, K) and 2 (Allen, J) will be my main sources. I will also be using ‘Learning Companion 2’ and the audio material from ‘Evidence in the social sciences’.
  * Describe what is meant by ‘consumer society’. (Page 13 of ‘Making Social Lives’ has a good definition to draw from).
  * Explain what the essay will consist of and arrive at - Including factors that influence freedom of choice within consumer society, making reference to Bauman, Susman and Veblen.
  * State how you will build on Bauman’s division of the ‘seduced and repressed’ with respect to ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ supermarket campaigner arguments, and ‘real’ choice.
  * Aim for a maximum word limit 100-150.

Main part:-
  * Explain how consumerism isn’t just about ‘material’ goods, and make reference to how we have moved from an industrial society to a consumer society. (Pages 20-21 of ‘Making Social Lives’ can help with this.)
  * Explain Bauman’s division of the ‘seduced and repressed’, in terms of choice, and how exercising consumer freedom shapes identity and social membership; e.g. excluded and pushed to the margins of consumer society, and how this relates to choice.   Link in material from Veblen – ‘conspicuous consumption’ and Susman’s work – ‘the performing self’, as examples to build on Bauman’s division. (I will use pages 20-42 of ‘Making Social Lives’ to draw information from.)
  * Explain what the ‘Big four’ are, including quantitative data to show how they’ve increased in size, and that this is proportional to their increase in power.   Go on to explain how ‘power’ is a controversial topic. (Draw information from pages 57 and 66 of ‘Making Social Lives’.
  * Go into detail about pro and anti-supermarket lobbies, and how they perceive big supermarkets, and discuss the relationship of these with respect to ‘real choices’. Include the concepts ‘positive sum gain’ and ‘zero sum gain’....