The Rise of Consumer Culture

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Consumer culture has developed over the years for many different reasons such as the demise of the social class and embourgeoisement which are both key factors in capitalism and has therefore led to the argument that consumer society merely reflects the rise of capitalism which I plan to discuss within this assignment. The origins of consumer culture have been discussed by Grant McCracken (1998) who argues that there is minimal agreement in regards to the origins of consumer society. McCracken took on the viewpoint that it would not be beneficial to look at a specific point in time in which consumer culture arose but to primarily focus on patterns of changes within culture and how these pattern of changes led to the reformation of society. McCracken identifies three crucial changes in history which elaborate the development of modern consumer culture. During the sixteenth century and at a time of Elizabethan politics Queen Elizabeth I introduced the use of objects to her highly ceremonial court. The use of objects within her court meant that without her actually directly communicating with her subjects she could use the objects to communicate her authority and power to others. The second would have been the massive increase in the involvement within the marketplace during the eighteenth century in Europe. This signified a change in consumer culture because it meant that people from different social backgrounds could all get involved in the marketplace due to the high influence of the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution caused the marketplace to expand and therefore created a huge space for consumer choice. This also meant that members from the middle and lower class began to recognise the social significance ... ... middle of paper ... ...furt School. However McCracken and McKendrick show how historical examples relate to the rise of the consumer society. Works Cited Arato, A & Gephardt, E. (1982) The essential Frankfurt school reader, London: Continuum Publishing Brewer, J. Mckendrick, N. Plumb, J. (1982) The Birth of a consumer society, London: Harper Collins Benjamin, W. & Doherty, B & Jennings.W.M & Levin.Y. T .(2008) The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media : Harvard Univeristy Press Marx, K (1849). Wage Labour and Capital. Germany: Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Accessed at: accessed on 27/03/2011 McCracken, G. (1989) Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities, Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press

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