Consumerism is one of the backbones that hold modern society together. In the accumulation of money and the spending of it on things, taxes are paid and the wheels of government slowly grind in all its expensive ways. Most of us require some form of guidance and leadership in life in order to feel comfortable. Uncomfortable people don't work as well, and they don't enjoy their lives, so we on the whole keep the way things are.
It was William Blake who spoke of the "dark satanic mills" in his realist and gritty poetry concerning the way of life for many in the nineteenth century. Before the global trade networks and human rights laws that we rely on today, the capitalist mindset was given the freedom to do as it wished. And because we as people need money in order to live, those without were extorted for their time in return for very little. Those at the top of the manufacturing triangles were scooping in large rewards for all the hard work and often tragic lives of those under their employment.
At least in the western developed world, this notion is now under some form of control, and equality is much better now than it was then. The rich and poor gap is obvious still, however the democratisation of manufacturing and consumerism has provided a network and gateway for many more to find their way into financial comfort. More people now stand able to create and manufacture than before, and this is because of the technology and education available.
The alternative scene consumer ideal is always attempting to work against the grain of mainstream consumerism. The bipolar element of this marketplace is allowing a continual flow of novel and creative ideas to enter the social consciousness alongside the stable and proven facets that the majority wish to own or take part in. Nurturing the alternative scene and the societal irregularities within communities provides a way for individuals to feel more able and more likely to find a niche in the consumer market.
In the developed world, the amount of things available to buy increases by a great amount. As social hierarchies subconsciously form around cultural groupings and peer groups, a potential for alternative thinking arises. Once an alternative idea begins to manifest within a social group, finding ways to represent this symbolically and externally is often on the agenda. Consumerism offers this with an array of items which all look and feel certain ways. We creatively define ourselves using the plethora of props available to us. The clothing, jewellery, media, and food we consume all point towards personality traits that we on some level wish to communicate.
By identifying new and independent ways of being and thinking, the alternative marketplace finds the consumer produce that speaks to these element of their communities. The media often portray the alternative scene in one form or another, and more complicated structural morphology can be found in suburban and urban environments based on a word of mouth and social comparison basis. The incentives to find relationships between thought patterns and consumer items are financial and cultural in equal terms. It is important for people to find ways of representing themselves in ways that feel unique to them but also allow a group conformity with a particular peer group, and the balance in this process is worked out over the years. Often when we are teenagers, we begin the process of self-discovery and then around the mid twenties, we begin finding our social likenesses and societal places as a more rewarding experience.
What is on offer and what themes are being used by the mass alternative scene will affect the niche pockets found in local communities. The famous songs and their artists, the particular clothing worn by the alternative icons, and the language used by the presenters and communicators of alternative culture will find their way into the main consciousness of the societal crowds who follow them. This echo-box function provides a continual reflectivity of culture and marketplace which gradually evolves as new ideas and motifs find their way onto the scene.
As we as consumers buy products, ideas, and resources, we are in essence voting for which of these we wish to perpetuate. We are choosing to allow this association of creativity and product to endure. It's a democratic process in which the things and ideas that people associate with the most will be bought into, paid for, and given incentives to continue being on the market. These ideas are reflected back by other artists and media sources, and the evolution of culture revolves around this process.
By encouraging a consumer based culture which provides for freedom of thought and expression, it sets a society up for greater equality and allows more opportunity for people with all kinds of personality to find ways to contribute in their own ways. It is the capitalist mindset that has caused inequality but in the right hands, it can be used to cause equality too. Education and living wages of course are the main factors in this establishment of equality but the alternative scene marketplace is an essential element in this process. Without a continual input of fresh and novel perspectives and ideas, consumers would soon get bored and a much smaller selection of individuals would stand able and willing to create and form new ideas.
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