Inequalities: Sociology and Consumer Society Essays

775 Words Jul 8th, 2011 4 Pages
A consumer society is best defined as the process in which goods and services are bought and used to satisfy people’s perceived needs (J.Obelkevich. 1994). The image of this consumer society can be described as one of individualism and freedom but it can also be marked by social divisions, inequalities and exclusions. This essay examines the relationships there are between consumerism, the social divisions this engenders and ultimately the choices, if any, this offers to people. It shows how our choices can be defined by the type of people we are, the way that we are perceived by others and our ability to consume.

Consumption is now seen as the major aspect for many in our society and a dominant force in shaping all our identities.
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The image that this portrays to other less socially acceptable members of society is one of social belonging, status, social class and choice (Veblen, 2009, p.).

In contrast the repressed portion of society (Bauman, Making Social Lives, 2009) the unemployed, elderly, migrants, disabled and the poor are seen by many as being socially unacceptable and unable to consume effectively in society. Because of their lack of resources and limited income their choices are restricted; they are more socially isolated, less mobile and less valued in a consumer society.

ransients, Rubbish and Durables In almost all contemporary debate where the consumption of goods and services is considered it is largely assumed that these possessable objects and experiences are of at least some value, it seems that the category of objects and experiences of no value (rubbish objects and experiences) is largely invisible. Thompson argues that the processes and contradictions involved in recognising rubbish are crucial to social life. He has a particular conception of rubbish, one which rather than seeing it as waste or even as the unwanted, views it as necessary to the wider system of valuation. For Thompson rubbish can only really be understood in relation to the categories of transient and durable. Indeed these two categories represent the visible and valued elements of material culture as opposed to the invisible and unvalued ‘rubbish’. It is important to

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