The dynamics of consumerism in modern social life partially indicates a collapse of other narratives of progress like religious, ideological and other traditional community values which no longer occupy such a central place in the public priorities as they did a few decades before. In their absence, the only markers of progress are the relentless accumulation of market-based assets like stock market indices, property prices and disposable income. Now, even professional and educational qualifications, are subject to obsessive interest as clues to an individuals status in the society.
Benjamin R Barber in his book Jihad vs. MacWorld aptly puts it by saying "Just beyond the horizon of current events lie two possible political futures-both bleak, neither democratic. The first is a retribalization of large swaths of humankind by war and bloodshed: a threatened Lebanonization of national states in which culture is pitted against culture, people against people, tribe against tribe-a Jihad in the name of a hundred narrowly conceived faiths against every kind of interdependence, every kind of artificial social cooperation and civic mutuality. The second is being borne in on us by the onrush of economic and ecological forces that demand integration and uniformity and that mesmerize the world with fast music, fast computers, and fast food-with MTV, Macintosh, and McDonald's, pressing nations into one commercially homogenous global network: one MacWorld tied together by technology, ecology, communications, and commerce. The planet is falling precipitantly apart AND coming reluctantly together at the very same moment"
The growth of market freedom has not only produced mass participation in ever increasing frenzy in shopping trends; it has also fuelled the birth of new moral energies and social revolutions ranging from environmentalism to anti-sweatshop campaigns. A growing proportion of the present population would like to participate in 'ethical' consumption choices.
The route to this synthesis lies in re- evaluating the basis of the self, and the practical meaning of 'choice' in the many different settings where the modern individual now has to exercise it. Hitherto, the debate has attempted to make a distinction of principle between 'consumers' and 'citizens' in order to demonstrate that consumerism is compatible with fair outcomes, or that 'citizenship' is an alternative to the market model which can provide excellent services fairly, depending on your social and financial position.
Nevertheless, the distinction between consumer and citizen is seldom put to practice despite its meaningfulness. People and markets are embedded in social and civic contexts (Kay, 2003). As a result, our everyday consumption decisions are a ripple of myriad effects, not just on the price and availability of what we are consuming, but also on the public context in which we consume it. The dominant models of choice and progress currently do not allow us to evaluate individual acts of consumption for their widespread contribution to the social, public or environmental context. Choice is interpreted as a representation of expression of private freedom and fixed preferences and not as an act of participation amid imperfect information in a socially contingent setting. Likewise, the collective models of progress in which we are conditioned to believe tend