Consumption Styles as a Reflection of Diversified Standards of Living
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Publication date: 2005-06-30
GNPJE 2005;200(5-6):85–100
The article aims to check a hypothesis that access to specific goods rather than consumer goods in general leads to a progressive social stratification in a contemporary society. Social stratification is promoted by different consumer attitudes. It is primarily a function of growing differences in consumer incomes, which are a consequence of changes on the labor market, including reduced demand and supply of labor. The drop in demand results from a limited number of jobs resulting from the development of the knowledge-based economy and the accompanying computerization and automation processes. The reduced supply of labor is chiefly the result of rationalization stemming from increased consumer expectations with regard to their work. Conflicting development tendencies contribute to a qualitative diversification in consumption: homogenization versus heterogenization; democratization versus elitism and ecology versus technology. Generally, it is possible to classify consumers into two groups: - well-to-do consumers with access to top-shelf goods and services: heterogeneous products that meet luxury needs, make use of the latest technology and possess high health values; - low-income consumers with access to cheap homogeneous (post-Ford) goods that exclusively meet their basic needs and are technically outmoded and characterized by limited health safety.