Sian Ruscoe Personal identifier: A9073698 TMA02 Page 1 of 4
Write an essay that outlines the view that a consumer society is a divided society.
We consume many different things in many different ways. Not only do we consume goods, but also services and experiences that are available to us. In this essay we will be looking at the different examples that suggest a division in consumer society. First we will look at the division between the big supermarkets and the small shops and the evidence that supports this claim, then we will have a look at divisions between consumers themselves and the effect it has on society.
Let’s start by taking a look at the division between big supermarkets and the smaller independent shops. It is said that the small independent shops are losing out over the big-name supermarkets. As time goes by we are seeing less of our local corner shops and high street stores and more of the big chain supermarkets. More and more small shops are losing out over the big stores every day as smaller retailers cannot afford to keep up with the demands being met by these big chains. Looking at the following key points, it is easy to see why this might be said. For instance, one-third of all food shopping is done at Tesco and nearly three-quarters of all food shopping is done at one of the ‘big four’ (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrison’s). The building of these big stores is resulting in the loss of neighbourhood shops as these can’t compete with supermarkets over planning applications.
Joanna Blythman (2005) stated that in Dundee, Scotland in the 1960s ‘there were 10 bakers; now there are two left. There were eight or nine butchers; now there is one. Of the five fishmongers, one has survived. Where there were half a dozen grocers, one remains’ (Blythman, cited in Hetherington, 2009, p74). Now, forty years on, Dundee plays host to a number of the big supermarkets, these include Three Tesco’s and one Tesco Metro, a Marks and Spencer, two Asda's, a Sainsbury’s and a Morrison’s. This growing of supermarket power and domination matches the equivalent decline of the smaller shops and their ability to compete. The Federation Of Small Businesses supports this claim by stating that ‘since 2000, some 7000 local grocery stores have been lost, with independents at the rate of 2000 a year, whereas, over the same period, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrison’s have doubled the number of stores that they operate’ (Federation of Small businesses, citied in Hetherington, 2009, p74) This is an example of zero-sum game as these big stores are benefiting at the expense of the small independent shops and it is clear who the winners and losers are.
Moving on, let’s look at another claim that a consumer society is a divided society. Social scientist Zygmunt Bauman believed we that we now live in a consumer society and that as consumers we can be divided into two groups-the seduced and the repressed-and that what we buy...