Outline the Argument That Supermarket Power Is a Zero Sum Game

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Outline the argument that supermarket power is a ‘zero-sum’ game. In the past, the UK was considered an industrial society. People were defined by the industries they worked in. However, over the past few decades there has been a shift from a class based society to one where people are judged and valued by what they consume. This essay will outline what is meant by a consumer society and the role supermarkets play in contemporary UK today. It will go on to discuss the power supermarkets have, not just in the UK but globally and how this power equates to a ‘zero-sum’ game. Consumption may in simple terms be seen as a basic human need for food, clothing and necessities, but in reality it goes much deeper than simply buying things for their use. Consuming is a way for people to feel that they belong, that they are part of society. People buy items that define their personality and lifestyle and to convey a meaning to others, not simply for practical use (Susman cited in Hetherington, 2009, p. 43). To be a part of this consumer society, a person needs to be able to consume effectively. This requires money and ability. In contemporary UK people either have enough money and ability to buy the consumer lifestyle or they do not. Zygmunt Bauman (Bauman cited in Hetherington, 2009, pp. 27-28) coined the terms ‘seduced and repressed’. In Western societies people can be divided into one of two types of consumer. The seduced have the money and means to access a consumer lifestyle whilst the repressed do not. This divide is not just financial. With more large supermarkets being built out of town there are members of society that may not have the means to access them such as those without transport and older people. In the last twenty years the rise of the supermarket has become phenomenal. The majority of people in the UK now do all their shopping at one of the
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