The world has increasingly become interconnected in terms of trade and cultural exchange. The interconnectedness describes globalisation which is driven by the advancement in technologies and media which have shaped lives and modified behaviours (Jain, 2015). According to Jain (2015, people are increasingly living in global acumen. There is cultural synchronization that has led to the birth of global consumer culture and production and use of information content. Globalisation has different themes which point out to the way the physical boundaries have been compressed, culture has been homogenized, and mobility accelerated. It is in the context of globalisation that the following paper critically compares and contrasts different two different themes of globalisation. The paper will also discuss how the two themes manifest in Aotearoa New Zealand. The two themes to be discussed are the consumer society and the information society.
Social scientists have undertaken comprehensive studies that have sought to understand the aspects of globalisation and its various overarching themes (Scriven, 2014). They have shown how the society has been changing from the time it was described as a global village driven by advancement in the transport networks and the ideas of capitalism that was driven by production revolutionisation and uninterrupted disturbance of social processes. The researchers have unearthed both quantitative and qualitative data that show the contemporary depictions of globalisation and the way they have been shaping the post-modern culture. In regard to the consumer society and information society, many similarities exist.
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The recurring themes in the various studies are that the media, technology, consumption, and culture have mediated society for many years since the early modern age. The media and technology have evolved to the contemporary post-modernity in which the world is more globalised, hyperbolistic and hyperrealistic (Jorge, 2014). The new depiction is that of a map without borders in regard to the flow of information. The digital culture has become a phenomenon of the information society. The interconnections between people have become more extensive, rapid and immersive and have accelerated interdependencies which have blurred the difference between local, national, regional, and global issues due to the compression of time and space allowing the rapid spread of ideas, information and capital (Jorge, 2014). The information society is characterized by the way information flows using different communication vehicles whose message impacts the world order.
One of the key themes of globalisation is the consumer society which has attracted the interest of many researchers in areas of marketing and sociological research. Globalisation has contributed to the advancement of capitalism (Firat, Kutucuoglu, ArikanSaltik, & Ungel, 2013). There are significant changes in the instruments and goals of a modern consumer. For instance, in contemporary society, there is a new ideology which has gained a new perspective of consumerist societies (Firat et al., 2015). In the domain of marketing, organizations are ever seeking to make profits and hence commodity chain production characterizes the society. In regard to the social domain, users of goods want to be associated with some good and services for symbolic purposes. This means that consumption has become a social point for lifestyle and identity. The convergence of social and marketing domains explains the way consumerism is presented in contemporary society. To satisfy illusion of lifestyle and the increasing profit-seeking, marketers engage in studies that seek to understand the ever-changing needs and the global trends in order to link personal demographic factors to class and consumption trends (Firat et al., 2015). Therefore, to achieve the dictates of the market research, marketers have to rely on data which is the basis of information.
Despite the continued research, a recurring aspect is that of the few producers trying to satisfy the consumer needs of modern society. For example, the global market is flooded by new brands and commodities but the distributors and retailers of the commodities have not been expanding. Case example, in New Zealand, 70-80% of all wine is produced by two transnational companies. It is important to understand the drivers and the ingredients of global consumer culture based on societal dynamics, behaviour and organizational aspects that influence the invariable consumer’s response to forces that drive consumption. Consumption has economic and social associations which are connected to space and time. Generally, consumption is about satisfying the needs and desires that are due to the different psychological, physiological and cultural factors.
Globalisation has remained to be a dominant hegemony of the contemporary age and the theme of consumerism has become one of the key depictions of globalisation wealth. The current globalisation is associated with identity in which fantasies of the self is articulated via virtual realms. Colin Campbell in the discussion of the (‘The romantic ethic and the spirit of modern consumerism’ (2005) noted that the forms of consumerism in the contemporary society have risen from neo-romanticism that started in the 18th Century. For instance, in the 18th century, the consumerism was mainly associated with literate and middle-class ladies and it was characterized by the primacy of personal feelings. As such value and worth were arbitrators of consumerism just as it is presently. Consumerism is dictated not only by necessity as a basic need for a service or product but the class or the feeling that emanates from the consumption. The consumerism is about what is trending in the global space and at a given time and propelled by the easy flow of information.
With the globalisation, the consumption has converged to the cultural aspect driven by American culture. As a result, in different parts of the world including New Zealand clothing stores, fast food eateries, mini-putt golf courses, and types of music have become normalized. Based on the trendy aspect of consumption, it can be inferred that it is a discipline and hegemonic control in which people consume to fit in a certain class or to be recognized and considered worthwhile. Noteworthy, in contemporary society, the success in society is gauged based on material perspective and the potentiality o an individual to consume what is regarded as fitting them at a given time and space. The result has been that there is a set standard from which needs are satisfied. The finish line keeps on changing because the wishes of human being do not have a limit (Jansiz, 2014).
The marketers use virtual messages that encourage the people to consume and have a positive view and feeling about the consumption which is driven by trends which are aimed at mainly solving the psychological needs rather than the physical needs (Jansiz, 2014). The consumerism is thus used to portray a premeditated identity. Case in point, different perspectives define the consumerism. According to Papasolomou (2017), in the contemporary globalised society, there are different overarching perspectives about consumerism. The first perspective is the perception that consumerism is manipulative activities that entice customers to purchase products (Papasolomou, 2017). This perspective can be understood from the ongoing activities of marketers and producers in which they apply different techniques that encourage the consumers to consume more goods by expanding their needs and desires. In regard to the perspective, consumerism is about the overuse of promotion activities in order to make the target consumers buy products.
The second perspective is that consumerism is a movement with the aim of ascertaining the rights of consumers. The perspective of the consumerism as a movement was mainly sought to eliminate the manipulative techniques used by the marketers (Papasolomou, 2017). It is a perspective about strengthening the powers and rights of buyers. However, in regard to the current depiction, consumers are not opposing the marketing forces; instead, they are continually being manipulated and chasing after the products to meet the psychological demands of fitting in a socially perceived category of consumers. The third perspective is consumerism as an ideology in which consumerism is regarded as “the doctrine that the self cannot be complete without a wealth of consumer goods and that goals can be achieved and problems solved through proper consumption” (Papasolomou, 2017, p. 13). This depicts the aspect of globalisation in which the humans’ insatiable needs come to play. It is about the current consumer culture ‘status symbol’ characterizing consumption.
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In regard to the theme of the information society, the contemporary global society is networked by the emergence of the World Wide Web, the social media and other technologies that have made people to interlink and have ensured that that information is easily accessible (Mannermaa, 2012). It has become a commonplace to communicate or access what is happening at the furthest corner of the globe via a phone swipe of just a click of the computer mouse. A big percentage of the developed world is connected to the internet and people are using cellphones (Mannermaa, 2012). The cellphone and the internet have had a great impact on business processes, social relationships, and creation of new distinct cultures that are not inclined to ethnic or regional orientation but a global thing (Mannermaa, 2012). It is about ‘netizens’ who interact freely and can share experiences and solutions virtually. Today, technologies of freedom define contemporary society. For example, social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube bring people together and make sharing of information to be very easy. It is in this context that it became easy to spread information and gather people together in the Arab springs in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and currently in Sudan.
Just as it is with the consumerism, the information society has become not only a factor of cultural activity but has formed a world culture of doing things. According to Mannermaa (2012), the driving force of the information society is the development of information and communication technology (ICT). It is about the increase in know-how and more interlinkages. The information society has changed the way of doing business and way of life. As pointed out, the information society is about the integration of various systems of communication such as the internet, personal communication system such as the cellphone, cables, satellites that have been the core contributors to the interactive world.
The information society is hyper-connected which has made it possible for people to confront economic and trans-governmental interdependencies (Mannermaa, 2012). Just as it with consumerism in which American culture has permeated the world and can be felt in New Zealand through the music listened, fashion, dressing, and the eateries, similarly, information society has led to the dilution of the borders and space has been relocated. According to Jorge (2014), unequal mobility can be experienced in digital migration. Inherently, the society is hyper-connected and it is possible to travel through digital neighbourhoods unabated by the physical geographies. This has created new value. However, though the information society is still driven by forces of ICT innovations from America such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other social media platforms whose origin is majorly the U.S., it has given a new dimension in which information flow is not limited to unidirectional, from the U.S to other parts of the globe but a multidirectional in which content is being produced and shared by people from diverse origins. However, in regard to the economic perspective, the information society is still driven by western capitalism.
In contemporary society, the consumption of goods and services has become a predominant theme. The society has been continually saturated with an endless supply of commodities and advertisement that entice the people to buy the commodities to satisfy some needs and desires. With the advancement in technology and the advent of the internet, the consumption is not restricted to retail shops or stores, it has transcended to online shopping. Also, the advertisements have infiltrated the social media sites which points out the common perspectives between the information society and the consumerism. The consumerism has permeated the physical boundaries, case example relates to MacDonald’s eateries, despite its origin in America, the eateries of McDonald’s and its related culture can be felt in New Zealand. Similarly, the idealized female body that started in America has continued to define consumerism.
The female perfect body appears in advertisements in which its sexuality is capitalized in order to evoke desires for the consumption of some objects (Bratu, 2013). An example, in NewZealand, is Burgen, a bread company, that launched an advertisement campaign using billboards featuring women eating Burgen bread. The caption used was “Are you a Burgen virgin?” (Edens, 2016). The case example of the company’s use of the female body is a depiction of how consumerism has permeated the society in which marketers use psychological appeals to sell a product. However, the campaign by Burger resulted in criticism from New Zealanders who argued that the company was exploiting female sexuality to market and sells its bread (Edens, 2016). The criticism related to the perspective of consumerism a movement that seeks to react to the marketers. It is worth noting that the perfect female body that has become an aspect of consumerism behaviour is just one of the core elements.
The nuances of the consumerism are perfected in New Zealand and other jurisdictions across the globe by the information society which makes it possible for information about trends to flow from one point to another unhindered. Therefore, just as the consumerism perspectives have permeated New Zealand the overarching drivers of an information society are evident in the country. The people of New Zealand are immersed in technology which is a key narrative of modern society. Case in point, statistics as of 2015 showed that 91% of the people aged between 18 and 34 years old had access to Smartphone (Research New Zealand, 2015). The Smartphones are internet enabled and allows for connectivity of the people and have been shaping the narrative of consumerism. The implication is that New Zealanders have access to information and can thus know the consumer trends in society.
To sum up, both the consumer society and information society perspectives are depictions of a commonality of interconnectedness. They are about greater connectivity and relatively friction-free interconnectedness of society. The case example New Zealand where the effect of consumerism driven by the American capitalism has permeated the society and the advancement of technology and advent of the internet in which majority of New Zealanders are connected points out to the global value chains that are the basis of the contemporary culture. Today, New Zeeland is among the top 25 countries in regard to access and ownership of Smartphone which have contributed to the explosion of communication pathways and have had a profound effect on many other things including the socialization, trade, and consumer behaviours. As a result, it can be ascertained that perspectives of consumerism and information society have been about the blurring of the physical boundaries and creation of world cultures that people are virtually interconnected virtually and in ideology.
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- Edens, J. (2016, September 15). Burgen ad leaves some wondering whether sex is realy needed to sell a bread. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/84279383/burgen-ad-leaves-some-wondering-whether-sex-is-really-needed-to-sell-bread.
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