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The Culture of Consumerism | College Homework Help

Choose a particular topic and analyze how scholars have studied the phenomenon. Compare approaches and address the pros and cons of each approach

 The Culture of Consumerism

Consumerism currently emerges as part of every fabric in the modern society. Consumption, the rationale for consumption has become paramount in the modern era. Basically, each aspect of life integrates consumerism because it contributes substantial influence in constructing our daily lives. The essay will focus on the ways in which academic scholars have conceptualized the consumerism concept by assessing diverse research designs and their methodological implications. The first analysis will encompass comparisons from three related texts focusing on consumerism. It will stress the positivistic and epistemological nature of consumerism and the extent of its contribution in the modern society. Distinguishing this consumerism precept from previous studies, the paper will address how consumerism has progressed over the years and the drawbacks of an objectivist approach, especially the potential threats of disseminating information that is unreceptive to confined discernment. The article will subsequently proposition an unconventional approach that seeks to address challenges of consumerism through the implementation of discourse analysis approach. The utilization of this approach will not only fabricate new understanding but enrich the research study as well. Lastly, the article will deem the significance of research ethics in elucidating theoretical deficits in the existing academic literature.

Consumerism: A Way of Life

An Overview of Literature

Consumerism is indeed engrained in our culture and interwoven in all life aspects. Consumerism is our culture, our way of life. According to Baudrillard (2016), consumerism is more so a sociological interest than it is consumption, and this is attributed to the fact that consumerism ideology encompasses a set of cultural, economic and social practices and is a key contributor to legitimate capitalism. In global history, consumerism changes were bolstered in response to cross-border threats (Stearns, 2006). Through modern history, catastrophes affected individuals in the society as they were requested to forfeit their consumer pleasures for the greater good. The concept was also recognized in beauty pageants whereby consumerism syncretism was incorporated with attempts to blend beauty contests with traditional culture in Kerala. Moreover, consumer behavior such as purchasing goods and services for political and ethical reasons indicates political consumerism, though the concept of political consumerism was not pronounced in the past, it is recently gaining increased attention (Oosterveer, Spaargaren & Kloppenburg, 2019).

Consumerism is in fact more of a cultural phenomenon than an economic phenomenon as in developed nations, culture is profoundly associated with, and reliant on consumption. The lack of consumer commodities in the modern society would trigger the loss of core instruments for the development and representation of culture. Consumerism subject matter is more extensive and not simply limited to purchasing and consumption of products or services. In the 1980s the objective of consumption and commodity shifted to accommodate a dual function as both a cultural and economic benchmark. However, discussions of consumerism, specifically those which only contributed insignificantly to the sociology of consumption were deliberate to address the composite nature of inter-associations that exist between culture and economics.

Consumerism permeates all life aspects and structures individual experiences and yet it is constantly reasserting its control in novel disguise. Moreover, in the modern society, individual associations with consumer goods has heightened. Consumerism is publicized as the solution to individual problems. The discipline attempts to address the intricacies that drive the consumption process. In essence, whilst consumption is more of an act, consumerism is a culture, a people’s way of life (Brown & Vergragt, 2016). Therefore, consumerism is a cultural and social manifestation of the perceptibly ubiquitous consumption act. Consumerism is regularly associated with excessive preoccupation with consumption, which implies a rather negative description of the term because in essence, the social implications of consumption are more ubiquitous than unwarranted. According to Fordism theory, that studies modern mass production, variables such as size, homogeneity and certainty are imperative in consumerism and to sustain demand, high earnings have to be maintained (Bieling, 2018). The theory proposes the government’s role to guarantee employment opportunities and prosperity (Wigfield, 2017). The individual purchaser on the other hand, should be receiving surplus to buy necessary goods. As a matter of fact, the principle advocates that employees should consume the very products they produce. Nevertheless, whilst mass production ascertained that standardized products were instituted to the marketplace at affordable charges, surpluses availed to the employees counteracted an intermittent threat of the depression impact on capitalism. As a result, an extensive segment of the large-scale industrial sectors including furniture and clothes experienced a transition. In fact, the evolution of consumerism has been profound ever since to extents that all sectors integrate the concept. The conception of freedom is assessed in relation to general consideration of consumerism (Davis, 2017). Existing research addressed uncritically upon other significant themes particularly on culture, socialism and power.

The conception of freedom is critically reflected upon to comprehend consumerism through analysis of political traditions of liberalism, socialism and conservatism (Gauthier, Woodhead & Martikainen, 2016). Consumption is more than a meager financial phenomenon thus its cultural facets cannot be tackled in isolation. The significance of commodities and the creation achieved by consumer progression are essential components of the scaffolding of current realism. In fact, without consumer commodities, particular proceeds of self-definition in culture would be rendered impossible.

No matter the location, whether in sport arenas, marketplaces, the airports, museums, consumerism is touted the solution to all problems. The city centers are more noteworthy as consumption sites rather than as cultural venues, households are illustrated as temples that hold a belief in consumerism while individual lives are an invariable juxtaposition of different consumer preferences and styles. Moreover, it is apparent that individuals are what they consume. Diverse areas that affect peoples’ lives including politics, religion and business integrate the consumerism concept. Hence, consumerism is indeed our way of life.

The school of thought on consumerism has shifted from the fact that individual lives are exclusively determined by their association to our work places and manner of productivity to acknowledging the sociology of consumerism. In order to comprehend the consumerism culture and its profound impact on the society, the researcher will assess the evolution of ideologies that explain the development of consumerism and the altered perceptions concerning the subject inquiry over time. By assessing three examples of academic literature, I will attest that consumerism is intertwined in individual’s lives and illustrate diverse areas that concede sociological development of consumerism.

Different Consumerism Approaches

Consumerism in Politics- Political Consumerism

In the recently published book, Political Consumerism: Global Responsibility in Action by Richard, the writer purposes to address the sociological aspect of consumerism by pinpointing the rapid advancement of political consumerism evident in the contemporary society. Richard poses a question on the efficacy of politics beyond the ballot box and explores whether individuals can address the challenges linked to globalization such as environmental deprivation and poor earnings to their purchasing decisions. Richard further asserts that these questions have been the focus in consumerism for several decades especially spurred by the development of market –based activisms constituting of fair-trade issuance and antisweat shop promotions. A combination of case studies, interviews, archival research and content analysis of emails were utilized to elicit answers to queries.

The strategic implementation of a multi-faceted qualitative approach enabled the author to gather more in-depth information related to political consumerism. In addition, findings derived from data collection have contributed in the advancement of similar research studies. Perhaps of utmost importance, is the contribution of each qualitative method in informing the research study. The author assessed several consumers –related surveys including a European survey and two Swedish surveys to obtain their views on political and ethical issues through boycotts. Nevertheless, Richard attests that survey methods have a limitation as the report showcased a gap between information on surveys and the actuality of deeds. As much as 30% of participants reported a particular view, but then it was realized that only 3% actually acted on the attitudes. Case studies were efficient although the method also had deficits. A case study provides more detailed information and is less costly. Nonetheless, the method is prone to bias and ineffective for rare cases. On the other hand, interviews also provide detailed information though they are time-consuming and are expensive due to hiring a skilled interviewer.

The market place has surfaced as a vital arena for the practice of politics. Personal and family issues as well as political and ethical analysis of constructive and unconstructive business and administration practices have become indispensable elements of marketplace politics. As a result, emergence of political consumerism is currently prominent in the society whereby politics is compared to a product entrenched in a composite normative and social setting (Wirt, 2017). Essentially, the author assesses the fundamental concerns surrounding the political consumerism phenomenon and its mediating position in the problematic association between markets and ethics. The author further explores the correlation between political consumerism and globalization and factors that have instigated the rise in political consumerism. Moreover, the author investigates whether institutions have been advanced to allow suppliers and customers to presume moral accountability for their behavior and choices. Consequently, the author seeks to identify the political consumers and assess whether indeed political consumerism is politics. Richard implements a qualitative approach to determine the development of political consumerism by addressing fundamental queries comprising the evolution of political consumerism; what is new and old about the phenomenon and its contributions to the modern society and asserts that consumerism is a discipline that employs sociological ideologies that affect individuals thus it is indeed a way of life. Moreover, questions that seek to offer answers as to whether political consumerism is indeed politics employ the qualitative methodological approach where the questions are fine-tuned to evoke open-ended answers. Respondents are allowed to share their opinions in regards to the issue as opposed to eliciting yes and No answers.

Consumerism in diverse areas of life

Paterson recently published a book that addresses consumerism and its essentiality in individuals’ lives. Paterson seeks to pinpoint the various ways in which consumerism affects individuals. The author provides a perceptive detailed account of the core ideologies and constructs that dominate the area of consumer culture and consumption. The author utilizes case studies to obtain a more in -depth description of the pertaining issue. Challenges of the case studies however, such as likelihood to bias prompt the need to integrate interviews. Paterson uses case studies to illustrate diverse forms of consumption as well as how various theories of semiotics, practice and psychoanalysis are pertinent in consumerism. Moreover, the author critically examines the association between ethics and consumerism.

First, the author ascertains that all individuals are consumers and he analyze how the aforementioned theories of consumption interact and their role in consumerism. The author connotes the two vital elements of importance within the framework of basic economic theory that encompass the commodity and consumer that are enhanced within social presumptions to explain recent consumerism. He further stresses that individuals are what they purchase and he correlates consumption and the identity of an individual. Paterson assesses the precept of selection and its centrality in daily consumption and ascertains that consumers’ selection from a wide array of products is triggered by the distinction between goods, in that a unique product is likely to be chosen. In addition, the author assesses cultural identity and the notions of habit and tastes in consumption and continues to endorse the notion that consumerism is part of all individuals through examining the interactions of domestic and cross-border production in people’s daily experiences and affirming that globalization of products is likely to be accomplished if efforts to adapt to local culture are achieved.

Paterson introduces the concept of consumerism in all spaces where he concurs with previous academic literature that affirmed that consumerism is widespread in different environs. He ascertains that contemporary consumption practices are widespread not only limited to market places and the aspect of modernity contributes a huge part due to the availability of goods (Paterson, 2017). Furthermore, malls are equated to templates of space for consumption. Numerous prospects for consumption have increased beyond the traditional shopping venues. The hybridization of mall spaces with rest areas and spaces in-between has enhanced consumption. In this case, the author examines female and typifies female consumers, as well as evaluate female shopping habits and consumerism spaces. Paterson further assesses interplay between ethics and consumerism and reviews the perception that consumers are either unconsciously manipulated by superior forces, or in less exaggeratedly inconsiderate terms, co-opted by the interests of companies in consumer capitalism. Moreover, Paterson addresses the critical role of social media in modern consumption. He acknowledges the possibility of individuals to be manipulated to divergent extents by social media, mass media and companies. The obsolescence of products prompts the need to constantly purchase items hence consumerism becomes an integrated aspect in individuals’ lives. Furthermore, with the current acceleration of customer culture spread ascribed to globalization, consumption demands for goods such as furniture and inexpensive food from all over the world has heightened, fostering the growth of consumerism. Nevertheless, the author pinpoints the notable downside of the ubiquitous availability of consumer goods, services and commodities in industrialized nations as compared to the recently industrialized nations such as South Africa, India and Brazil.

Consumerism in different life aspects

In documenting consumerism, Meneley focuses on consumerism and how the concept has been integrated in shopping and among diverse social class structures. The author endorses that consumerism affects all life aspects including social class and semiotic fashion. Furthermore, the author accentuates that the apprehension between sumptuary limit on evident consumption and the reliance on capitalism on vast commodity distribution surfaces recurrently (Meneley, 2018). Modes of strategic consumerism are examined to close the gap between supplier and consumer. Moreover, shopping is perceived as a kind of undistinguished labor in consumerism. Meneley assesses consumer patterns and shopping tactics. She identifies that females engage in shopping more than males. The author analyzes consumption patterns in regards to appropriation, creativity and consumption. Furthermore, she stresses the role of social media and its contribution to the growth of consumerism. Social media platforms such as Face Book, Twitter and Instagram have massively propelled consumption patterns and enhanced accessibility of goods and services.

Discourse Approach Analysis

The preceding section was an attempt to assess the objectivist approach of the consumerism phenomenon. In the account of consumerism, the authors ascertain a sociological development in the discipline and corroborate the notion that major shifts have occurred in consumerism. Philosophers in the social science discipline affirmed that researchers explore a situation prior to its study hence the selection of narrative is not essentially a conscious decision but rather influenced by the researcher’s discursive environs. Discourse can be termed as an institutionalized manner of vocally communicating that controls and instills action thus wielding power (Wodak & Meyer, 2015). Hence, the ordinary knowledge described by positivistic explanations relies on power exertion (Wall, Stahl & Salam, 2015). The researcher analyzes the morphology, semantics and syntax of language and its flow to gather crucial information. As substantiated by the textual analysis, consumerism affects all areas in our lives. It appears that consumerism cannot be evaded in all sectors including political and religious matters. Moreover, to some degree the sociological development of consumerism is discursively verified. The manner in which political consumerism is depicted and linked to politics manifests the utility of a discursive approach. The discursive construct becomes even more apparent in the assessment of consumerism in fashion and social class and how the concept is assimilated by diverse individuals in their lives on a daily basis.

This in turn brings forth multiple questions to experts in the social sciences field including: What are the best methods to employ to produce accounts showcasing what really occurred? With stringent applications of constructionism, discourses can prove vital in producing a clear picture of the real occurrences (Akarsu, Gencer & Yıldırım, 2018). Therefore, discourse analysis can assist in obtaining facts. Nonetheless, as denoted from the analysis, discourse analysis is built from extensive background information and even though individual’s subjective occurrences can be accessed through observation and interviews, the access to objective facts is rather complicated.

Through analysis of consistency and comprehensiveness, political science experts propose an objectivity precept that compares and criticizes interpretations about concurred facts. Thus, a multifaceted approach that combines a number of techniques is bound to produce more accurate results (Ainsworth, 2017). To illustrate, a combination of discourse analysis, ethnography and process tracing ascertains precise findings. Moreover, comparisons of alternative discourses would be a sensible approach to distinguish discursive shifts. Additionally, taking into account that discourse analysis is prone to instigate confusion among researchers if conducted solely due to the vast differences and similarities between concepts; the utility of an integrated approach becomes apparent.

Conclusion

The essay’s focus was on the sociological development of consumerism and how it has become intertwined in individuals’ daily lives due its inclusion in all sectors. Political, religious and business areas have all experienced consumerism impact. Hence, it is right to confirm that consumerism is indeed our way of life. Assessment of the aforementioned academic literature from various articles through discourse analysis has enabled me to identify the limitations of the method. The essay accentuates the necessity of an advanced theoretical framework as well as the utilization of a combination of qualitative methods including discourse analysis, process tracing and ethnography to obtain a more vivid picture into the consumerism concept .Nevertheless, it was my aim to solely utilize the discourse analysis method to identify the limitations that come along with it and address the issue on the essentiality of a combined approach in comparative analysis.

 

 

References

Akarsu, O., Gencer, M., & Yıldırım, S. (2018). Listening to the organization: change evaluation with discourse analysis. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 31(5), 1040-1053.

Ainsworth, S. (2017). Discourse Analysis/Methods. The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication, 1-14.

Baudrillard, J. (2016). The consumer society: Myths and structures. Sage.

Bieling, H. J. (2018). The Theory of Regulation and Labor Policy. Capitalism and Labor: Towards Critical Perspectives, 16, 128.

Brown, H. S., & Vergragt, P. J. (2016). From consumerism to wellbeing: toward a cultural transition?. Journal of Cleaner Production, 132, 308-317.

Davis, M. (2017). Freedom and consumerism: a critique of Zygmunt Bauman’s sociology. Routledge.

Gauthier, F., Woodhead, L., & Martikainen, T. (2016). Introduction: Consumerism as the ethos of consumer society. In Religion in Consumer Society (pp. 19-42). Routledge.

Meneley, A. (2018). Consumerism. Annual Review of Anthropology, 47, 117-132.

Oosterveer, P., Spaargaren, G., & Kloppenburg, S. (2019). Political Consumerism and the Social-Practice Perspective. In The Oxford Handbook of Political Consumerism (p. 135). Oxford University Press.

Paterson, M. (2017). Consumption and everyday life. Routledge.

Stearns, P. N. (2006). Consumerism in world history: The global transformation of desire. Routledge.

Stolle, D. (2016). Response to Richard Locke’s review of Political Consumerism: Global Responsibility in Action. Perspectives on Politics, 14(2), 520-521.

Wall, J., Stahl, B. C., & Salam, A. F. (2015). Critical discourse analysis as a review methodology: An empirical example. Association for Information Systems.

Wigfield, A. (2017). Post-Fordism, gender and work. Routledge.

Wirt, F. M. (2017). Politics, products, and markets: Exploring political consumerism past and present. Routledge.

Wodak, R., & Meyer, M. (Eds.). (2015). Methods of critical discourse studies. Sage.

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The Culture of Consumerism | College Homework Help . (2022, August 29). Essay Writing . Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://www.essay-writing.com/samples/the-culture-of-consumerism/
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The Culture of Consumerism | College Homework Help [Internet]. Essay Writing . 2022 Aug 29 [cited 2022 Sep 27]. Available from: https://www.essay-writing.com/samples/the-culture-of-consumerism/
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