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Politics of consumption

In simple terms, consumption refers to the absorption of goods or services by into the market by consumers. The fact that consumption is a heavily economic activity that involves a chain of transactions among the consumer, the retailer and the manufacturer, and that the manufacturer is driven by the need for the realization of increment in capital acquisition, deeply requires that the government comes in to regulate the process.

The involvement of the government is normally underpinned by the need to protect the consumers, the environment, other enterprises and the need for the government to earn revenue. This state of affair makes consumerism and matters related to it a very political affair. Consumerism and the Third World According to Gurney (2006), one of the issues that make consumerism in the Developing countries a political affair is that it is always seen as a driving factor that seals poverty in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

In this state of affair, a perfect case that replicates this indictment is when developed countries such as Britain buy coffee and cocoa berries from the LDCs like Tanzania and Kenya, at very fair prices. However, because the two countries are not technologically endowed to manufacture their own cocoa and coffee, the developed countries stock in their shops, first class cocoa and tea, while the poor quality blend is sold back to Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia among other countries at exorbitant prices.

The labeling of the Nestle Cocoa brand, writings that acknowledge human rights are in this case, if not very oxymoron in nature, are very ineffective in warding off these spates of parasitic relations. Hannam and Hunt (2002) also postulate that the insincerity in this state of affair is that it is these leading countries and their cocoa and coffee blending companies which scream the most about human rights; yet, these take to ensure that LDCs are not endowed technologically to process cocoa or coffee.

All this state of affair vindicate the Brandt Report that stated that Africa and other LDCs will continually stagnate because of its industrial relations with the West since the First World Countries (FWC) will not allow the profits to trickle down to the poor countries, the LDCs. Consumerism in the Developed Economies On the other hand, there are those who see consumerism as being detrimental to the FWC. White (2006), argues that with the growth of consumerism, large scale retailing shops, wholesales and departmental stores arose, of which a perfect example is the US based Wal-Mart.

Economic pundits such as Daunton and Hilton (2001) point out that Wal-Mart came in with the promise to create more employment, given that it had perfect infrastructural endowment and 2,700 warehouse retail stores in Canada and Mexico too (Shah, Friedland and Nelson 2007). However, as things turned out, the foreclosures of small scale retail stores crept in as a result of the stiff competition emanating from Wal-Mart. The fact that all goods could be obtained under one roof at the cheapest prices possible could not help things either.

As if this was not enough, the promise to deliver goods and services at lower prices only turned out to be a manipulative tactic as the collapse of other retail shops left Wal-Mart alone to up prices again. The untold catalogues of suffering the US consumers went through at the domestic level were quite unsettling to this effect (Johnston, Shelley and Taylor 2000). The relationship between consumerism and ecological crisis King (2003) contends that one of the prime concerns about consumerism is that it is driven by mass hype that will make almost an entire population purchase products that are not environmentally friendly.

The worst part of the matter is that with most industries being nonconformists to the ideals of environmental preservation and with the triumph of capitalism, it is these industries and their merchandise that thrive even at the global level of business (Furlough 2001). Lee (2003) waxes polemical that to this end, the concept and practice of Free Market Capitalism is always instrumental in dumping their second hand products that are not even biodegradable or recyclable in LDCs.

On the other hand, those products that are produced in the LDCs which do not pollute the environment become faced out, due to the unequal competition between the LDCs and the FWCs in international trade. It is because of the fact that consumerism totally ignores the need to reexamine the place of plastic and paper bags, the disposableness of clothes, goods that are not biodegradable and perfumes and sprays that are not ozone friendly; that Schor, Cohen and Rogers (2000) are totally convinced that the phrase “Green Consumerism” is purely an oxymoron. Conclusion

Seeing that it is a fact that there are side effects that come with consumerism, it is therefore fathomable that Anti Consumerism moves are rife. At the same time, the FWC governments must take to stock, that it is an opportune time that relations in the chain of products supply and economic systems are revisited. This is needful that economic and political frameworks with which the developed countries shortchange the LDCs be also redefined. Discontentment among players in international trade and diplomacy, Islamic Fundamentalism and terrorism are some of the undisputable signs of the times.

References Daunton, M. and Hilton, M. (2001). Politics of Consumption: Material Culture and Europe Citizens. New York: McGraw Hill. Furlough, E. (2001). Consumption Politics and France. Boston: Boston University Press. Gurney, P. (2006). Consumption Politics in England and Co-operative Culture. London: SAGE. Hannam, J. and Hunt, K. (2002). The Fundamentals of Consumption Politics. Cleveland: Buttersworth. Johnston, R. , Shelley, M. and Taylor, P. (2000). Towards the Development of Consumption Politics.

Colorado: Macmillan. King, R. (2003). Politics and Capital. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lee, M. (2003). The Rebirth of Consumer Culture: Consumption Politics. Denver: John Wiley and Sons. Shah, D. , Friedland, L. and Nelson, M. (2007). Politics of Consumption. Michigan: Michigan University Press. Schor, J. , Cohen, J. and Rogers, J. (2000). American Shopping Culture. New York: Prentice Hall. White, C. (2006). Politics, Civil Disobedience and Consumption. California: American Association of Political Economists.

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