General statement on the question, who are the winners and losers of a consumer society? Main body Who are the winners in a consumer society? Tesco’s are they a major player? How supermarkets use their power of seduction. Out of town shopping, how influenced are we? Power – supermarket wars Cheap labour Who are the losers in a consumer society? The seduced and repressed. Conclusion Bibliography & Referencing Self Reflection Who are the winners and losers in a consumer society? Who are the winners and losers in a consumer society? We could ask what is defined as such.We can see it is about what people do for a living and how they live, but there is a divide, it shows how the rich and the poor consumers are split as society clearly favours those with money, opposed to those who have little. We will see how this can play a major role in how we consume, shop and work. To be a winner in a consumer society, one has to be affluent according to John Allen (2009).
He argues that Tesco a large supermarket chain are the winners and says they are the major player in consumer society and Tesco shape the way we shop and how we buy.Tesco’s are a powerful organisation; there are many towns in the UK that have a Tesco store close to where they live. Tesco have over the years drowned out the local corner shop by encouraging people to shop in mass. No longer are there days of nipping out to the local shop for a loaf of bread. Once in a store such as Tesco you are enticed into purchasing more than you need by seductive offers, and why you buy more than is needed. So Tesco’s are the winners in a consumer society, but we could argue that what Allen (2009) has said is only partially the truth.Tesco’s are only winners because they appeal to those who are more affluent.
Many of their stores are placed in areas where there is less housing and thus makes it harder for those with little money to shop there. Vehicle owners would be more inclined to shop out of their district, rather than on the high street. Tesco is one of the four major supermarkets; we also have to consider Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrison’s, all of these stores are alike in how they influence the consumer and how they spend in store. The use of B. O.G. O.
F’s (buy one get one free) for instance seduce you into purchasing items you would normally not purchase, this is a cunning way of getting a shopper to spend more than they really need to. Power is a big word in Social Sciences, this can be used to describe how this can influence, control and dominate. We can see this in (ch. 2, pg 59) that there is a price war between supermarkets and each store will keep a close eye on the opposition, Identical goods are sold in each of the supermarkets, but each have a varied price.We need to understand and look closely at how power is used and how the concept is utilised. Since the 1960’s there has been a rapid growth in supermarket chains. The smaller shops are now dwindling because of large superstores and out of town stores popping up.
In the case of Tesco for example, more and more stores are opening and Tesco are buying more land to build these superstores, this is now known as “Tesco towns”. Supermarket power has been not so black and white with many rejections for planning permission based on the theory Tesco’s are taking over.It could be argued that most people would want a store closer to them, because they lack facilities nearby, but Tesco do build in more affluent areas. For example in Liverpool there are many smaller Tesco Metro stores dotted about the city centre in all proximity of a one mile radius of a large superstore. Tesco are basing their stores for the student market and those who work locally who need to shop after work. We have to ask the real cost of low prices. Most of the supermarkets shape how and what they sell on a basis how cheaply they can import, produce and buy stock.
Migrant workers who can work cheaply enough and obviously help towards keeping the prices low, but at what cost? The producers of goods here in the UK would inevitably buy goods that have been produced or manufactured abroad. Food journalist Felicity Lawrence (2004) says in her book “Not on the label” about the plight of the foreign worker, agency staff and gang masters around the country. The staffs are paid low wages and deductions are illegally taken from them by the gang masters, they work outside their restrictions and have no health or safety rules in the work place, these people work many hours at food processing plants.These are the losers of the consumer society; we could argue that though the cheaper labour is a part of why we get our food cheaper, supermarkets are taking advantage of this. But Lawrence argues you would not find any evidence of underpay or illegal activities on a salad packet or on other labelled food. Power again comes into play here, the big stores are taking huge advantages using the cheap labour and this is how the supermarket survives by selling cheaper produce. It is not only food that warrants cheap labour.
In 200-7 a large organisation “War on Want” based in the UK looked into how Asda and Tesco boosted their profits and found they were utilising garment workers in the sweatshops of Bangladesh. The mostly female staffs worked in terrible conditions, unhygienic and overcrowded, unlike conditions we have here in the UK, Asda and Tesco were found to be paying less than the hourly rate and in the case of one worker in Dhaka, she brought home a pay of ? 17 per month and worked ninety hour weeks.Again these workers are the losers of the consumer society and all because the likes of Asda, Primark and Tesco’s wish to sell very cheap jeans and t shirts. Bauman (1988) concepts of the seduced and the repressed refer to his categorisation of consumers based on their ability to consume effectively in a contemporary consumer society. Bauman argues that the seduced are the consumers that are able to buy into a lifestyle and are able to fit into a certain social group, Bauman also elieves that we could call the seduced those who believe in the idea that one can create a lifestyle and identity by consuming (Bauman. Z, ch 1, pg 46) but on the other hand the repressed are those who are excluded because of their social circumstance. This could include those who are poor, elderly and disabled.
But it could be argued that you are not restricted in the places you can shop it may just be a matter of choice, it could include those who wish to reduce their carbon foot print by not driving a car, or only eating locally produced food.The use of extra packaging would also play a part as some consumers view this as more potential waste and could cause harm to our planet. So in conclusion we can surmise that the winners of a consumer society are the larger supermarkets, mostly because they buy in stock that is cheaper so they pass the savings onto the customer; however this is at the cost of using foreign nationals and agency workers in getting the food from the field to store. They are the losers of the consumer society as well as those who work in the sweat shops of Dhaka India.Power is also a major player here too, the stores are getting bigger to contend with out of town shopping and it shows by Tesco who are one of the larger companies to take over some towns with more and more shops popping up. Word Count 1,260
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