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Consumer Society - Essay Example

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In general, society is distinguished by its characteristic modes of production and economic life. However, what is thought to distinguish the society is not solely a new mode of production, but a new social imperative - the changing distribution of economic and social resources.
Since 1900s, consumers became conscious about high quality of products and services they received. Fordism was one of the main features of this period. It caused a technological advance in mass production and labour relations, production of low price commodities to the workers. In contrast, upper and middle classes needed luxury goods and high quality services which supported and 'reflected' their high social status. Following Marx's theory of class conflict, it is possible to say that class was defined by its modes of collective action, and sought to show how rights to productive resources, credentials, party membership, lineage, etc., could all be distinct bases for social closure in the struggle for distributive advantage. Similar to other periods of production and social development, race was a silent factor which was often neglected by economists who analyzed distribution of economic and social resources in terms of class location of individuals. During this period of time, commodification was one of the main processes which marked the new era in consumption. Many objects and signs were turned into commodities available for consumers (Dant 1999).
The 1920s-1930s marked a new and one of the most important eras in production and consumption modes. After a short postwar recession, the economy grew exceedingly. Unemployment dropped as low as 3 percent, prices stayed steady, and gross national product increased by nearly 30 million in seven years. Some of this prosperity was due to technological advancements such as electricity. New systems for distributing goods also affected the US economy; perhaps the most influential producer of a good economy was advertising. The culture of the 1920s-1930s associated with consumerism and money-oriented behavior. Automobiles, another reason for the boom of the 1920s, caused a need for assemblers, which increased the job market, and by 1930 the automobile industry made up for about 9 percent of all wages. Because of this new found freedom people were able to drive to the chain department stores that perhaps were not convenient before (Weintraub 1958).
The 1920s could be described as the "coming of age". Through technology, arts, sport and science American culture was shaped in a 10-year period. Faster music, looser morals, and skimpy dress all contributed to the end of our nation's adolescence. However there was one factor that would later define the 1920s: prohibition. Seemingly, with a "coming of age" also came intelligence. As one faction of society pushed for looser morale, another group was right behind them leading the charge against social evils. The main objective of these groups was to do away with social evil by putting an end to its source: alcohol. Prohibition contributed to the prosperity of the 1920s by leading UK on a dry path to overall well being, reducing alcohol production, plummeting alcohol consumption, and promoting health. In order for one thing to be considered good, something else have to be considered bad. This contrast explains how beauty exists because there is misery in the world, and it exists exclusively in the human mind. Personal ...Show more

Summary

The world economy and consumer culture has changed profoundly since the beginning of the XX century. Perhaps the most fundamental change was the emergence of global markets; responding to new opportunities, global competitors have steadily displaced or absorbed local ones which has a great impact on culture of consumption…
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Consumer Society essay example
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