Consumerism from a sociology perspective

Objectives The aim of the module is to introduce students to the field of sociology of consumerism, in order to foster a critical approach to this dominant mode of being in the contemporary social world. These changes have led to increasing specialising of products and more visually compelling shopping environments, and F and V argue that these changes are liberating for individuals and they seek meaning and identity through consumption, which they can increasingly do outside of markets.

Utility of consumerism

Laura T. Individuals are now compelled to give meaning to their lives without the certainty that they are making the right choice that in the past had come from tradition. Within this subfield, sociologists see consumption as central to daily life, identity, and social order in contemporary societies in ways that far exceed rational economic principles of supply and demand. Modern Context Due to its centrality to social life, sociologists recognize fundamental and consequential relationships between consumption and economic and political systems, and to social categorization, group membership, identity, stratification, and social status. European critical theorists active in the mid-twentieth century also provided valuable perspectives to the sociology of consumption. Individuals are forced to be reflexive, to examine their own lives and to determine their own identities. Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph. Continue Reading. Even though I think that any attempt to achieve happiness through consumption will ultimately result in misery, I would hardly call anyone who tries to do so stupid — because all they are going is conforming to a number of recent social changes which have led to our society being based around historically high levels of consumption. The relationship between consumerism and identity formation.

The principal aim is to critically assess the degree of 'free choice' that consumerism offers individual men and women in their everyday lives.

In this context, consumption may be a useful vehicle for constructing a life narrative that gives focus and meaning to individuals.

bauman consumerism

To reflect upon ways in which social identities are increasingly linked to consumerism; 4. While the system promises to deliver, it does so only for brief periods of time. Key concepts in the sociology of consumerism literature and be introduced to the main contributors in this area.

Similarly, American sociologist Robert G. European critical theorists active in the mid-twentieth century also provided valuable perspectives to the sociology of consumption.

Consumer culture sociology

Within this subfield, sociologists see consumption as central to daily life, identity, and social order in contemporary societies in ways that far exceed rational economic principles of supply and demand. Continue Reading. In this context, consumption may be a useful vehicle for constructing a life narrative that gives focus and meaning to individuals. Davis leeds. Students will become familiar with a range of sociological perspectives on consumerism as an ideology and consumption as a practical aspect of everyday lives. Even though I think that any attempt to achieve happiness through consumption will ultimately result in misery, I would hardly call anyone who tries to do so stupid — because all they are going is conforming to a number of recent social changes which have led to our society being based around historically high levels of consumption. There are numerous explanations for the growth of a diverse consumer culture and thus the intense levels of unnecessary symbolic consumption engaged in by most people today — the overview taken below is primarily from Joel Stillerman who seems to identify five major changes which underpin recent changes in consumption since WW2. In sociological terms one might say that contemporary reflexivity is bounded by consumption — that is to say that most of the things most of us think about in life — be they pertaining to self-construction, relationship maintenance, or instrumental goal-attainment, involve us making choices about the strictly unnecessary things we might consume. It will foster students' ability to explore both the insights and limitations of concepts of consumerism. The cruel trick is that a society of consumers thrives on the inability of the system of mass production and consumption to meet our desires and needs. Some members of the counter culture in fact found profit in establishing their own niche-consumer outlets, with even some Punks surely the Zenith of anti-consumerism?! Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph. We want the newest and the best in order to fit in with, and even outshine, other consumers. Consumerism shapes our wants, desires, and longings in such a way that we want not simply to acquire goods because they are useful, but more so, because of what they say about us. Mike Featherstone: British sociologist who wrote the influential Consumer Culture and Postmodernism, and who writes prolifically about lifestyle, globalization, and aesthetics.

The sociology of consumption is about far more than a simple act of purchase and includes the range of emotions, values, thoughts, identities, and behaviors that circulate the purchase of goods and services, and how we use them by ourselves and with others.

Something which draws on numbers 3,4 and 5 above is the concept of consumer tribes developed by Cova et al which are constantly in flux, made up by different individuals whose identities are multiple, diverse and playful — individuals in fact may be part of many tribes and enter and exit them as they choose.

Consumerism examples

Assessment and teaching. They suggest that in contemporary societies production and consumption exist in a repeating cycle and retail cites and advertiser have increasingly focussed on producing symbols which individuals consume in order to construct identities. In their view, after World War II, universal access to higher education and social welfare benefits in Europe led to the erosion of traditional sources of identity provided by family, traditional authority, and work. Skills Outcomes This module will enable students to apply a range of conceptual devices drawn from the discipline of sociology to analyse consumerism as a form of culture and a mode of being-in-the-world. Learning Outcomes By the end of this course the students will be familiar with: 1. It then becomes the force that propels and reproduces norms , social relations, and the overall social structure of society. Key concepts in the sociology of consumerism literature and be introduced to the main contributors in this area. There are numerous explanations for the growth of a diverse consumer culture and thus the intense levels of unnecessary symbolic consumption engaged in by most people today — the overview taken below is primarily from Joel Stillerman who seems to identify five major changes which underpin recent changes in consumption since WW2. In other words, because each of our lives are so intimately linked with our shopping habits, the module may make you confront your own behaviour and attitudes as consumers and some may find this a little discomforting. Students will become familiar with a range of sociological perspectives on consumerism as an ideology and consumption as a practical aspect of everyday lives. Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph. It will develop skills of critical thinking through participation in lectures, seminars and writing. Continue Reading.
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The Sociology of Consumption