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SOCI 2702 (5)
Chapter 10

Chapter 10.doc

8 Pages

Course Code
SOCI 2702
Charles Gibney

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Power and Everyday PracticesChapter 10Going Shopping The Politics of Everyday ConsumptionToday shopping and consuming serve as powerful symbols of individual agency marketplace democracy and the Western way of life that is supposedly threatened by terrorists and a variety of other looming threats and crisesThey figure in our everyday lives as cultural and economic imperatives as activities in which we are in various ways constantly cajoled and compelled to participateIncreasing levels of private consumption are regarded both as the undisputed solution to problems such as economic stagnation and as the source of other vexing problems like environmental destruction and escalating rates of private debt and bankruptcyWhile corporate marketing and the mass media continue to glamorize the endless acquisition of commodities as the gateway to fulfillment this vision of the good life has increasingly run up against a growing countercurrentof dissatisfaction with the negative and often unjust social political economic cultural and environmental effects of affluent consumptionintensive lifestylesThe Ideal of Consumer SovereigntyConsumption has become uniquely central to the operation of contemporary Western societiesIt is for this reason that otherwise diverse nations are often grouped together under the broad banner of consumer societyIn a quantitative sense this widely used term points us to the historically unprecedented volume of material consumption in such societiesIn a more qualitative sense this term highlights the unparalleled degree to which consumption practices in affluent nations have become a crucial site for broader processes of social integration social reproduction and identity formationThe term consumer society is often used to describe a broad set of historical changes that have given a new prominence to consumption within modern social life as a whole it typically retains a critical charge implying there is something fundamentally problematic about a way of life in which materialistic values predominate as a lifefocus and in which individuals derive their primary sense of meaning satisfaction and selfhood from the purchase and use of commoditiesWhile the widely invoked notion of consumer society by its very nature implies that the everyday consumption practices of individuals reflect and embody a larger social logic conventional ways of conceptualizing consumer behaviour often bracket off and isolate such practices from their social contextEveryday decisions over what where and when to buy are not and should not be regulated or determined by social influences external to the individualThe ideal of unconstrained consumer choice has become an almost sacred value in contemporary capitalist society
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