The central question in Work, Consumption and Culture is whether consumption has now displaced production as the defining factor in the lives of those in the industrialized West. This book offers a comprehensive review of the key issues in the production/consumption debate, and where it might lead in the future. Key to Paul Ransome’s argument is the hypothesis that affluence is the crucial factor in the shift away from work and towards consumption. Uniquely emphasizing the links between work, consumption and culture, rather than keeping each element separate, the author looks at:- the changing significance of work in society - the meaning, growth and significance of affluence - the growing importance of consumption as a source of identity and its implications the impact of the shift to consumption on work/life balance Work, Consumption and Culture engages the reader with its lively debating style. It is an essential introduction for sociology and cultural studies students on courses relating to consumption and the role of work in contemporary society.`This book offers a balanced account of the changing importance of work and consumption in contemporary industrial society. Clearly written, the author identifies the central role that affluence plays in the relationship between work and consumption, and in the development of social life and individual identity' - Professor Paul Blyton, Cardiff Business School

Affluence

Affluence

Defining Affluence

In all societies affluence is understood in terms of standard of living, and, in societies operating with a capitalist philosophy standard of living depends directly on the amount of money a person has control over; ‘the possession of wealth presently assumes the character of an independent and definitive basis of esteem … a conventional basis of reputability’ (Veblen, 1994: 29). (We should say ‘control over’ rather than ‘has’ because people often and increasingly use credit to spend money which, in effect, ‘they don't yet have’. Heavy borrowing for household consumption might be one of the criteria of consumption-based society).1 Following Shammas (1993), we will take ‘standard of living’ to include features of ‘utility’ (defined in terms of desire, satisfaction and pleasure); ‘opulence’ (excess ...

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