A fair definition of Consumer Culture would be: relying on the owners of the industry to produce for the people the main subject of their lives, that is, producing culture for the people that revolve around consuming the products of this economy. Consumer culture will generate crime simply because it brings greed and selfishness, especially within the poorer region.
Consumer culture is often identified with the idea of mass consumption. Market relations are anonymous and in principle universal.
The idea that consumer culture serves a general public also promotes a more positive idea that it embraces ‘everyone’. We are all formally free and equal, unconstrained in our choices by legally fixed status or cultural prohibitions. Yet, it is also felt to be universal because everyone must be a consumer: this particular freedom is compulsory.
If there is no principle restricting who can consume what, there is no principled constraint on what can be consumed: all social relations, activities and objects can in principle be exchanged as commodities.
To be a consumer is to make choices: this exercise of choice is in principle unconstrained. The freedom of consumer culture is defined in a modern and liberal way: a consumer choice is a private act. Two senses of meaning of this:
- in the positive sense, it occurs within a domain of the private, which is ideologically declared out of bounds to public intervention, social and political authority
- in the negative sense, it is restricted to the household, mundane domesticity, the world of private relationships
Consumer culture is awash with signs, images, publicity. This involves an aestheticization of commodities and their environment. Consumption becomes a privileged site of autonomy, meanings, subjectivity, privacy and freedom.
Yet, all these meanings around consumption become crucial to economic competition and rational organization, become the objects of strategic action by dominating institutions. The sense of autonomy and identity comes under threat. Hence the controversy over whether consumption is a sphere of manipulation or freedom.
Examples of consumer cultures
One of the prime indicators of Consumer Culture is television. Mega-corporations fight with each other over the will of the people, by developing newer and more captivating advertisements, by dumbing down plot lines for television shows so they capture more viewers, special interests get their views in and the public just follows along.
Consumer Culture will naturally incite a feeling of loathing and disgust when investigated by any independent thinker. Moreover, then its innate failure to produce meaning or purpose beyond our immediate atmosphere is a detriment to something else: progressive change. This phrase progressive change is a very general term, meaning when society reforms, revolves, or adaptations to a new condition that is more beneficial to civilization.
While every person is always in a state of perpetual evolution, sometimes steering towards good, sometimes falling towards bad, always in flux — while we are always changing and progressing through life, the term progressive change here indicates a change in our customs, our laws, our culture, our ideals, our way of life, as it pertains to us collectively.
Why Consumer Culture
How Consumer Culture
Targets of property crime generally tend not to be the wealthiest. Those who steal from their fellow humans tend to be just as poor as their victims. Consumer culture has tempted daemons, and they are coming out. This system of free enterprise only asks individuals to seek and benefit from the misfortune of others. In a negotiation, if the individual with the strongest need is usually at the whim of the other’s mercy. In a situation where someone has a strong enough need, they will enter into an agreement regardless of the terms; this, in effect, creates slavery of one in favour of the other. So it has become the will and the nature of our Capitalist society to seek the misfortune of others.
The first effect of Consumer Culture is apparent: it creates a lust for worldly possessions that makes individuals hurt each other.
Modern consumption is mediated by market relations and takes the form of the consumption of commodities. The consumer’s access to consumption is largely structured by the distribution of material and cultural resources (money and taste), which itself is determined in crucial ways by market relations – above all the wage relation and social class.
From a Marxist perspective, it is the wage-relation (not industrial mass production), it is capitalist relations of production (not its technical forces) that produce the consumer.
Consumer culture is incompatible with the political regulation of consumption that suppresses the market. It does not arise in non-capitalist societies.
Agent of social control in the past cannot guide people’s morals any more consumption becomes a central focus of social life (reproduce increasingly through commodities).
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