Outline the Ways in Which Rubbish Can Be Said to Have Value in Consumer Society

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Outline the ways in which rubbish can be said to have value in consumer society Today’s society is very much a consumer society. Society is no longer divided by what we do but how and what we consume. Mass consumption and consequently wastefulness and rubbish are one of the main by-products of the consumer society. With rising affluence, wastefulness and rubbish are rising too. Rubbish is usually viewed as something with no value. However a value can be perceived in different ways – it can be something with no use, it is worthless, it has zero price or it can be found offensive. In some case it may even have negative value as there is a further cost for disposing of it. Nevertheless the value of rubbish can change as the items can be revaluated or devaluated with the progress of time and changes in society. Some changes can be predictable and obvious and some completely unexpected. One of the examples of the process has been studied and observed by Michael Thompson in his book Rubbish Theory: The Creation and Destruction of Value (1979). The main principal of his theory is that the good in its lifespan can shift from a transient category, which is defined by objects of mass production and ordinary use to a durable category, which are objects whose value increases over time. According to Michael Thompson this transmission can only happen via a rubbish category. This process just does not happen naturally, they are many outside factors to contribute. He believes that the price of the object first falls to zero value or close to zero value prior being revaluated and then moved to the durable category. (Brown, 2009, p.122) Thompson’s example is Stevengraphs. They are silk-woven pictures produced in 19th century portraying landmarks, events or important people of British society. These items were produced as mass production items with price tag of 5
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