Ompare and contrast the producer and consumer society as outlined by Bauman and consider their impact on personal and societal happiness.

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Liquid modernity and The Consumer Society







Social and Cultural Transformations: Zygmunt B
What was solid modernity and the producer society all about?..........
Society of stability/familiarity with boundaries maintained by social, political and economic system
Socialization into social obligations and duties as well as establishment of human rights
Certainty and shared experience with others similar to you
Commitment to the collective provision of public goods and services to ensure greater equality eg the welfare state, state education, NHS and the criminal justice system
Positive freedom in contrast to negative notions of freedom [see amongst others Isaiah Berlin] a collectivism valued in societal interests
Ultimate goal of modern society seen as moving towards greater equality for all a a vision that is Utopian

What are the key elements of the solid producer society?
key roles defined in relation to work men producers and women providers
jobs for life and commitments for life marriage
freedom is product of satisfying needs and limited wants a buy goods because they have a function
working hard, deferring gratification a work, save, and value the function
consumer demands relatively easily satisfied
purpose of life to ensure security, relative prosperity and certainty
benign or positive view of the state and belief in democracy

Liquid modernity and the consumer society

rejection of the claustrophobic and narrow world of solid modernity

rejection of collective provision of public goods and services

little recognition of role as citizen as key role is as a consumer

life is about pleasure and individual fulfilment not duty and obligation

liquidity or fluidity in all areas of life from borrowing money to changing partners

rather than keeping, valuing, and nurturing the key values become built in obsolescence and keeping up to date

being up to date in a world of infinite consumer opportunities becomes central to identity

LECTURE 2: Key features of consumer society
Individualisation in all aspects of life: individual autonomy and betterment the core meaning a an ideology of privatisation
Not the good society but the good life for the individual where anything is possible and there is a blurring of the boundaries between a?reality and fantasya?.
This is a world of immediate gratification where committing a?a¦ will plunge their [individuals] lives into the deep freeze, in the process depriving them of new experiencesa?. [ Blackshaw, p.9 ]
Key value is choice a?choice is the consumer societyas meta-valuea?.[Bauman,1998]
Key feature is the apparent freedom from constraints, in the anything is possible world a X factor, the lottery, forever young,....desire becomes wish
a?For all its surface glamour, consumer culture is as empty as the shelves are seemingly bottomless and full to bursting in the stores which comprise the out of town shopping malla? [Blackshaw, 2005]
Not only do people have an insatiable desire for things, they become commodities themselves a making themselves saleable a commoditization. [ make you and your body saleable in the market place].
Life is a never ending pursuit of ever greater material satisfaction a a?being a consumer in the consumer society is a never a ending strugglea?.

The consumer society a Baumanas critique of the dominance of the free market

the market convinces us that desire can be wish, the gap between fantasy and lived experience is closed by the reality video game, the lottery draw, the snuff movie and pornography on the net
In liquid modernity the liquid modern individual is
using the toolkits of trusted brands, cosmetic surgery and the culture of youth to stay young. They are prepared to go the distance on the running machine to stay in the playground of youth.a? [Emma Soares, 2004]
For Bauman the clubbing granny and the tweenager are no playful positives of the postmodern; these are nightmare visions of an empty, shallow existence
A culture of ethics is replaced by one of aesthetics
So a consumer society is one where everything is COMMODIFIED a The Illusion of Agency
The ideology of the market consumerism has become the dominant story of our age



How has this social, cultural and political transformation taken place?
Reification of the market Marketisation in all areas of society
Easy money a?take the wanting out of waitinga? a plastic money
Living on credit becomes a lifestyle choice a living in debt
Disillusion with democratic politics a trust in politicians
Globalisation a leading to lots of cheap goods being available
Information saturation and new technology
Power of the messages a notably television and advertising
Decline in religion and other meta-narratives

Summary of the theorya¦a¦a¦.
A. In relation to things we need and want:
Consumerism/materialism given high value
Commodifying process insatiable
Marketisation and Privatisation of all goods and services becomes the only show in town as collectivism/the role of the state is rejected
Choice the meta-narrative

B. In relation to individuals lives:
Old certainties roles/identities collapse
Individualisation a immediate gratification a?take the waiting out of wantinga?
Blurring of boundaries desire can be wish
Pressure to consume and be a consumer leads to new inequalities
Non-committal in relation to relationships

C. In relation to our obligations to society:
Decline in value of being a citizen
Democratic politics loses itas value
The trouble with being human a a film on the life and ideas of Zygmunt Bauman
This is an independent film produced by Bartek Dziadosz and the Bauman Institute at the University of Leeds.
The film is directed by Bartek Dziadosz and he has given us permission to show the film at the University of Northampton.

For more information go to
beinghumantheseda