Essay by amina786_007University, Bachelor'sB-, April 2006

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Bauman and the new Consumer Society

If one had to define the term 'consumerism', it would relate to the way society bases itself around the consumption of various goods, ultimately living for the moment and discarding what has already been consumed before experiencing other new and more 'exciting' consumable aspects. Before the post-modern era, the 'work ethic' was used as a means of getting people to work in factories and make them feel that unemployment meant being poor and helpless, however the definition now of being poor has lead to the idea of 'flawed consumers'. As industries progressed, they required less labour and more machinery was being used to replace human hands and therefore, the emphasis which was once placed on production was thereafter placed on consumption to help current capitalist society. Bauman argues we are now living in a consumer society where people's values and identities are shaped around consumed and consumable items or aspects.

His thesis has shown considerable legitimacy in current day society as we observe the emergence of a world where flexibility in jobs, people's identities and other aspects such as relationships due to the emphasis placed on consumption as supposed to production and also the emergence of material wants changing to material needs and the concept of 'flawed consumers', however Bauman fails to consider aspects such as social class and belief systems such as religion that may influence people in society. These factors amongst others will be considered with the existing overall argument that society is mainly driven by consumerism as portrayed by Bauman.

In order to explain the formation of consumerism, one must understand the roots of such a phenomenon. In previous society, influence was placed on production rather than consumption and work was seen as something compulsory by all members of society. The...