[pic] Suppose you got this question:

‘Everybody benefits from consumer society. Discuss.’

And you have the following theories to use:

Zygmundt Bauman

  According to Bauman, we now live in a consumer society. People are no longer defined according to their place in production (that is their job) but in terms of the products they buy and consume. This appears to give everyone more freedom and choice but this is rather misleading. Everyone in consumer society falls into one of two categories: the seduced or the repressed.

  The seduced are those who can participate in consumer society. They have the money, the knowledge and the opportunity to buy consumer products which are desirable and which promote a positive self image. This group are successfully integrated into consumer society and are attracted by the promise of status that consumption offers because it also promises a sense of self-worth and the apparent ability to express yourself. Nevertheless, the seduced are under strong pressure to conform to society ‘s idea of what represents successful and   desirable consumption.

  The repressed do not have the ability to participate because they have insufficient money, they lack the knowledge to take part in consumption or the opportunity to do so (for example because they are not up-to-date with fashion or they are ill).

Thornstein Veblen

  Veblen wrote The Theory of the Leisure Class in 1899. He claims that the wealthy and leisured bought products in order to demonstrate their wealth to others and to show off their success in an ostentatious manner. For example, they were by luxury watches, expensive cars or glamorous and luxurious holidays. Things were not consumed so much for their usefulness in this group, but for the impression they created for others – their consumption is therefore described as conspicuous consumption.

Warren Susman

  Warren Susman argues that consumption used to be concerned with expressing a class...