Explore the Claim That a Consumer Society Is Always a ‘Throw-Away’ Society.

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The term “consumer society” refers to not only those who buy goods and resources but also those that use different products and resources within society. It has been argued that consumer society is always a ‘throw-away’ society, wasting resources and throwing them away. With the arrival of large supermarkets in the 1960s, their immense buying and selling power, combined with the rising affluence in recent years, consumers (particularly in the United Kingdom) have never had such a wide variety of products (both food and non-food items) on offer. Even in a somewhat affluent society, consumers are still put into two main categories, The ‘Seduced’ and the ‘Repressed’, as described by Zygmunt Bauman. The ‘seduced’ consumer is one with no restrictions; i.e. money etc, being a seller’s favourite type of buyer, while a ‘repressed’ buyer may be restricted by money or disabilities etc. This type of buyer has less favour with sellers. A consumer society is still based on inequalities and exclusions (Hetherington, 2009, p30) There is also a minority of consumers classed as ‘oppositional’, this group of people tend to oppose the big supermarkets and retail parks in favour of small businesses, for political and/or environmentally reasons, those who like to buy organic from farmers’ markets etc, “reducing carbon footprint and recycling to create a vision of consumption based more on personal thrift and social responsibility” (Hetherington, 2009, p47-48) rather than being a ‘seduced’ consumer. Supermarkets’ buying power creates a ‘zero-sum’ effect, where not everyone benefits. (Wrong, cited in Allen, 2009, p70) It has a large impact on poorer countries as workers are indirectly forced to work in poor conditions. The selling power of the big supermarkets has a large impact on smaller retailers and businesses which often have to close, leaving high streets and town centres

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