CONSUMERISM / CONSUMPTION
CONSUMERISM / CONSUMPTION
Culture is a significant, but often overlooked, driver of the shape and measured size of economic activity.
All cultures are free to decide which resources to waste and which monuments to build.
CULTURE IN AUSTRALIA:
The current cultural preference for buying coffee and breakfast has made the cafe industry one of the nation’s largest employers.
What has become known as ‘cafe culture’ is now a major determinant of the shape of the Australian economy.
There is nothing inevitable about consumer culture, and in turn, there is nothing inevitable about the link between the measured size of Gross Domestic Product and the extent of harm to the natural environment.
MODERN CONSUMER CULTURE:
Consumption replaces production as the principle source of our identities.
What we produce is not as important these days as what we consume; what we buy and how we present ourselves
The idea that freedom and happiness are only available through the purchase of goods and services in the marketplace.
The love of consuming, the love of purchasing, and the love of acquiring the new
This involves particular relationships with commodities, moving beyond their use-value to what they signify/represent.
It's not just about the luxury, it's about the necessity
‘Consumer culture’ means that it is now considered normal to believe that waste creates wealth.
THEORIES OF CONSUMERISM:
Marxist and critical theory:
Describes the exploitative and manipulative nature of consumption.
(consumerism is a way of reeling people in and keeping them there, e.g mortgage, credit card payments)
Connects consumption with the myths and meanings embedded with consumer objects. It's the sharing of stories that we need need to interpret.
(It's about idealising a certain lifestyle, so that the product gives access/membership to that community and the interacts with the rest of the world)
Emphasise agency, style, taste. Refashioning/repurposing an original product from it's sole purpose into a completely different purpose and sends a different message to people.
The dominant story told of consumption:
SCAMS; people being tricked into paying heaps of money for a product that is worth a fraction of the cost.
Zygmunt Bauman argues that the poor are often 'flawed consumers'.
It plays on the idea that if you don't demonstrate your worthiness by buying stuff and don't keep the economy moving, then you aren't playing your part of the social contract due to lack of participation.
TYPES OF CONSUMPTION:
You buy something to do something. (default position of how we buy and consume goods and services). Buying a hammer to build a desk.
You buy something to have an experience and can reflect on it. There's no tangible object to show for your purchase. Eg going to the movies.
ETHICAL AND POLITICAL:
Choices you decide to participate in/not participate in. Only buying free range eggs, telling people not to buy certain products.
Buying things that force you to physically participate in the community. Eg getting on a flight, going bungee jumping, kayaking.
These kinds of consumptions shows how a person chooses to spend their money.
STRUCTURE AND AGENCY:
(Ability to make active decisions that influence our pathway through the world)
glorifies the idea of choice, that in the market place you can go out or go online and choose whatever you want to buy.
This is where the ability to choose to buy something and having the resources to act on that choice comes into play.
There are several assumptions here regarding who can exercise choice (privilege vs disadsvantage)
There's a relationship between consumption and work: two people interact; One person is consuming/experiencing, and the other is creating.