Consumer culture is essential in society for individuals to construct and present an image of self, to distinguish from others and create a self-identity. Therefore, consumerism is an essential part of the society and economy that continues to thrive and allow for individuals in the late-modern life express themselves. Economist use the term consumerism in relationship to finances to express the practices and procedures covering consumption of goods and services based on the concept of trading monies. Coupled with cultural trends, a point to consider is the ways of advertising impacting consumer’s choices (Novotney, 2008). Like many other topics, consumerism has two sides, for some people there is nothing wrong with it. For some more, consumerism is something that it is affecting our society in a significant way.
Sociologist, David Miller argues that clothing is not superficial and rather represents the inner core of a true person and the cultural view of society (Why Clothing Is Not Superficial). Members of society are constantly responsible for creating a self-image and continuously working to main an individual style. Furthermore, cycles of fashion are continuously altered and changing effectively cancelling out an individual’s efforts and members of society but continue to work for their distinction. Consumer culture presents an essential social norm that allows for individuals to materialistically present their inner- self. Therefore, late-modern life depends on consumer culture to allow for the distinction and creation of a self-image within society.
Consumer culture allows for individuals to connect with other members of society through materialistic means. Materialistic objects signify values and beliefs of individuals which allow for them to connect other individuals who have similar social norms and characteristics: Goods and services consumed by individual are not important on their own but rather act as a personal symbol or sign for other individuals. Individualism through consumer culture allows for representation of oneself and ultimately creates strong social ties with in communities and those with similar interests. Consumption as a socially communicating role that allows for a person to feel vital within the community and create stronger social bonds. This consumerist culture in the late-modern life has become an essential part of social life in understand individually a person and their place within society. Therefore, consumer culture is vital within society as it allows for a further connection to others and creates stronger social bonds.
Shopping centres have become a place of meeting and bonding within society. According to Widiyani “Since the 1970’s where 80% of shoppers were suburban wives, the population visiting shopping centres has increased to a larger audience, including children” (Shopping Behaviors in malls). Shopping centres encourage consumer culture in the late-modern life and allow for stronger social ties by creating authentic and relaxed areas. Consumption and consumer culture have created an environment that can unite and build social relations within society. Therefore consumer culture has the ability to act as a positive aspect of late-modern life by uniting and creating stronger social ties. Consumerism has progressed and allowed for individuals to display a self-image which allows for individuals in society to connect on a deeper level.
Consumer culture presents a positive aspect towards minority ethnic groups as materialistic possessions allows for a continuation of their culture. With globalisation increasing and multiculturalism becoming the accepted view in society, consumer culture allows for individuals to purchase goods and services which allow for their cultural traditions to continue. Consumer culture theory has found that ethnic identities have become reconstructed in the late- modern life as consumerism allows for the assertion of identity in the fluid social setting. Consumerism for ethnic minority allows for individuals to continue traditions through material possessions such as clothing, food and music.
Therefore, in an age whereby fluid societies are becoming more apparent consumer culture allows for subcultures and identities to thrive. In the publication consumption and identity it is stated that “as identity constructs for minorities become less structured due to the nature of globalisation consumerism continues to allow for individualism and diversity to thrive” (2013). Ultimately this progression of ethnic cultures has led to shopping centres filled with symbolic resources which allows for cultural beliefs to continue to be structured. Companies have tailed an industry to continue to allow ethnic minorities to continue traditions and create a sense of belonging through materialistic goods. Therefore, in the late-modern life with globalisation at the forefront consumer culture allows for ethnic cultures to thrive. Consumer Culture has ultimately ensured that ethnic cultural beliefs still exist and shape our society.
Consumer culture threatens to damage our society and have severe negative effects on the economy and our overall health. Consumerism in individuals has led to large amounts of income personally spent rather than on public needs and crisis’s within the community. In the late-modern life of society and the coming years most of societies income growth will be spent on materialistic desires rather than on the overall improvement of the public system. Rather than focus on global and national problems individuals focus on wants and desires has led to a destabilisation for the public system. This lack of focus within the community has created in the long term a wider gap between social classes and social issues such as poverty.
Therefore, “consumer culture has ‘created an environment whereby there is lack of guilt and focus on social problems that are increasing due to the new abundance of material goods” (Shopping Behaviors in malls). Society has focused on private spending rather than public spending which as lead to lack of investments in hospitals and schools which in the long term threaten to have grave social and political effects. Due to consumerism individuals have focused on private rather than public spending within society which has worsened social and political issues within. Consumer culture within late- modern life acts as a negative aspect because it threatens in the long term to affect the public sphere of society and the backbone of society.
Consumer culture also can lead us to degrade our environment, when consumers increase the demand of a product, goods or services the resources in the area might come under pressure. Raw materials may experience a shortage. “Because the best price possible is also encouraged, shortcuts happen too, such as using harmful chemicals to encourage a better price point. By the time all is said and done, consumerism does harm than good from the perspective of the environment” (Ayres).
I found consumerism as something good, the world is innovating everyday with new gadgets, clothes, and in general everyday there is a new invention. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have the latest things. The problem occurs when we do that in a irresponsible way, when we affect our environment with trash or when we give more importance to the things we want that to the things we need. If we as a society make a change on our minds and put our necessities in first place. I do not see a problem with buying or consuming things that we want occasionally in a responsible manner.