Tma02 Explore the Claim That a Consumer Society Is Always a ‘Throw-Away’ Society.

TMA 02

Explore the claim that a consumer society is always a ‘throw-away’ society.

There are several aspects that must be addressed when considering whether a ‘consumer society’ is always a ‘throw-away society’. This essay, will first attempt to define what constitutes a ‘consumer society’. Secondly, it will consider the rising level of affluence and links to increasing mass consumption. It will then look at the environmental consequences of waste disposal. Lastly, it will look at the changing attitudes towards waste and the alternatives to land fill disposal available to those who consume.

In the past the UK was often referred to as an ‘industrial society’, where the position of the individual within society was primarily defined within by their profession. Wealthy professionals such as doctors or lawyers would have been able to indulge in the use of luxury items whereas low-paid factory-workers, for example, would have been unable to consume non-essential goods and services. This has changed however; contemporary UK society is now often referred to as a ‘consumer society’, where occupation is no longer the focus for individuals to define their social status. In its place, a person’s lifestyle is now more significant in forming their social identity. Consumption within a consumer society is much less about necessity but primarily about choice (Hinchliffe et al, p26-27 2009).   There are several reasons given for this increasing consumption, Zygmunt Bauman explains this as desire for social inclusion.

Bauman (year?) argues that in a consumer society individuals can be represented by two groups, the ‘seduced’ and the ‘repressed’. The ‘seduced’ are those who, due to their own social and financial positions are able to make use of the goods and services available as a way of social inclusion (Bauman cited in Hetherington, 2009). The ‘seduced’ may often consume to make a positive statement; for example, by purchasing a car from a particular manufacturer to...