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Consumerism is a concept that has been increasing throughout society.

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Introduction

Starting with the bibliography in Stearns and Roberts' pieces, discuss an Aspect of Consumerism in the Twentieth Century That You Find Interesting Consumerism is a concept that has been increasing throughout society, and continues to get bigger. Defined as 'the theory that progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial,' consumerism is a ravenous force in our world. It is a broad area, and centres mainly on the modern economically developed countries. These are otherwise known as consumer societies, which can be defined as 'those which choice and credit are readily available, in which social value is defined in terms of purchasing power and material possessions, and in which there is a desire above all, for that which is new, modern, exciting, and fashionable' (John Benson, 1994) Studies of consumerism have mainly focused upon how new patterns of acquisition arose and how they related to other cultural and economic developments from proto-industrialisation to early Romanticism. But there still remain some areas of consumerism, which have yet to be fully determined. Products present to the consumer a symbolic significance, which Fromm (1976) suggests 'is used in the search for the meaning of existence.' Bauman (1988) suggests that 'for most members of contemporary society, individual freedom....comes in the form of consumer freedom' thus highlighting the importance of individual consumer choices. ...read more.

Middle

After this point, advertising towards women started to change. Rather than using women as an erotic image, they were being portrayed more as a pure image, and one that has freedom to go out and enjoy herself. Lears (1994) explained that "women were pushed off the stage of visual culture and transfigured into the giddy women-as-consumer." Loeb (1987) also tends towards this argument and suggests that the twentieth century female consumer "exercised choice and the pursuit of pleasure..." and agreed that women were a strong influence on the way advertisers tried to sell their product. Many historians shared this view. "Historically women acted as rational consumers," says Blaszczyk(1989). "They found ways to resist the dominant culture while helping to reshape the material world. Producers paid attention to women's choices and changed product designs to meet women's expectations. After, the war period, there was a sudden burst in technology with the initiation of many household appliances onto the market. This included electricity, refrigerator and the washing machine. This meant the average housewife had more free time, and was not as held back. Of course, advertisers still tried to focus much of their attention towards women. It was a confusing time as "women were portrayed either as mighty consumers with advertisers at their beck and call or as pathetic victims of male expertise and control (Roberts, 1998). ...read more.

Conclusion

Gender is a major factor in consumerism, and it seems that the focus of many advertising campaigns are still focused towards the female gender, even though, this maybe an outdated analysis. More general products still seem to concentrate on attracting the women as the consumer, even though the item may be purchased for a man or a woman. Obviously, specific items for male and female are kept separated, but for many products, this simply isn't true. The adverts themselves portray an outdated image too. Content analysis by authors such as Goffman (1979) has demonstrated that in advertisement women and men are frequently portrayed in stereotypical roles; the former occupying the submissive, reliant position and the latter being dominant and purposive. The emphasis upon the growth of consumerism throughout the twentieth century focuses mainly on the inherent attraction of consumption by the female gender. It was clear that from an early stage that, women were the primary consumers in society with men taking a more background role. This view has changed in more recent decades, but marketing and promotion for products has not quite caught up to this stage yet. Whether the attitude of companies to develop marketing strategies not centred on gender based ideals will change, remains to be seen. But gender is an important and influential factor within consumerism, and it is only when you really start to look, do you notice how much products are centred around the female or male consumer. ...read more.

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