The paper is to discuss on the reasons as to why we have been obsessed on luxury, it will focus on the factors that tend to influence the Chinese to buy luxury goods and services in London. To facilitate this, it will first start o with looking at the definitions of the key words such as luxury, consumption and the relationship that exists between production of goods and consumption, the cause of rise of leisure in the society and lastly it will look at the shift in society in term of the industry consumer society to post-industry consumer society.
Luxury is a traditional believes that brings in the distinction between various types of lifestyle in the society. The typical luxurious lifestyle displays noticeable wealth, adequately financial freedom and a reduction of the amount of work being done by the individual. This involvement of luxury purchases has over the years created a clear definition between two main different economic parts of community this has made the concept of luxury to become a brand in the society (Bastein, & Kapferer, 2008, pp 312). This has resulted in the term luxury to be used to distinguish same goods on a microscopic level.
For example a normal beauty product and a luxury beauty product with difference of few coins in their prices, the consumers will tend to go for the luxury product for the purpose of being identified to be able to associate themselves with luxury items. This concept have over the years been adjusted and altered to develop capitalistic gain in the market and present to the clients the fact that they are capable to meet the expenses of luxurious items when in real sense the aspect of luxury is greatly down to the branding and packaging (Bastein, & Kapferer, 2008, pp 313).
Thus luxury has been an important function of consumption in the market. Consumption is essentially a traditional process distinct by values, practices and institutions that have been culturally agreed by and often have come to define their environment (Storey, 2001, pp 39-40). In this, the term consumption was later on divided into two major division of which consist of; induced consumption in which is directly related with disposable income and autonomous consumption in which the depends mostly on the long term consumption plan of an individual such as ,mortgage and car purchase (Keynes, 2008, pp 23).
In reality, there is usually a connection between production and consumption in the market as the level of consumption of the people in society tends to affect the production of products in market and vice versa (Miles, 1998, pp 113-117). Thus it is then clear that the producers not only produces what the customers in the market demand for but also produces what they think that they can invite the demand of the customers from the market to purchase the products.
With this, it raises the significance of the increase in leisure in society as less cash requires to be used on necessities and more disposable income permits for superior and more diverse variety of leisure activities (Miles, 1998, pp 106). The post industrialist society eventually recognises more temporal duties such as the provision of services. In the past the industrial processes dominated the society but apparently are now obviated and resituated in such away that they can no longer be seen in the society.
This has paved way for division between experience and reality, as the individual in a post-industrialist society is unable to visualise or in any way sense the enormous levels of production that are required in order to sustain his or her lifestyle (Miles, 1998, pp 156). The outcome is a post modern mismatch of experience and knowledge. LITERATURE REVIEW/ DEBATE AND THEORY In this section, the paper will look at the ways in which theorise have influenced the Chinese to buy luxury goods and services from London.
In this, it will look at the classical social theory, the emerging sociology of consumption, cultural consumption as manipulation, cultural consumption as communication, theory of shopping and the consumer agenda on their purchase of the luxury items in the market. CLASSICAL SOCIAL THEORY The theory tries to explain the ways in which our consumption impacts us in society to be involved in the purchase of the luxury products form the market.
In this, it will look at the major theorists who have tried to illustrate the ideas more clearly. As discussed early on, there is usually relation between the consumption of people with the production of the products to the market. To begin with, we will look at the Karl Marx theory in which he majors on the production of the commodity other than its consumption. He says that the production and reproduction of material life comes dangerously close to damaging the social relations upon which it so heavily relies.
Production occurs in both social and technical relations in such away that, social refers to the relationship between individuals while technical refers to relationship between individuals and objects (Marx, 2000, pp 587). Nevertheless, a market economy permits these differences to be considerably faint to the point that social relations can become almost mechanistic while technical relations can change to the point that individuals have important and lasting emotional relationship with objects that have been mass-produced (Marx, 2000, pp 613).
Contrary to the classical theory that suggest that a worker creates and utilises the outcome of his or her labour, Karl Marx says that one does not get exactly that which he or she has worked for but rather tends to substitute it with other simple monetary payments that allows them to be able to purchase other products of which its work was not undertaken directly (Kolakowski, 2008, pp 106) other than Karl Marx, there are more other people who had there own idea on the influence of the purchasing luxury items in the society.
Max Weber managed to investigate on the number of ways in which religion tackled the concept of capitalistic endeavour and advancement. He believed that capitalism was the natural outcome of a change in focus away from the means of production and onto the result of production. In this, he noted that it was evident that the more relative contribution of Protestants in the ownership of capital in management and other high positions of labour in more modern industrial and commercial venture tend to give the reason to the historical circumstances in the rate of individual purchase of luxury items (Weber, 2003, pp 120-121).
Inn this, we get to know that individuals, does not purchase the products for the purpose of their consumption but because of the status in the society. The Norwegian economic philosopher Thorstein Veblen, in the meantime, wanted to put in order economic theory beside the lines of in progress social development. He assumed that imitation, predatory senses, workmanship, inquisitiveness and the parental nature, tend to greatly force the economic factor of an individual in a community (Veblen, 2007, pp 270).
In this he explains the reasons as to why the rich and poor tend to use the element of consumption to demonstrate their social status to the other members of society. This gives the desires and the wants in which each status of people that they use to purchase the luxury products from the market in London. Here it is then clear to use that, the Chinese who are known to be of high living standards will tend to purchase more of luxury products from London as compare to the low standard people in the society.
This is also evident to the theory stated by George Simmel of who believes that, ones consumption only increase with the increase in the social life. In that, whenever one tend to relate with more individuals in the society, they will tend to consume more of luxury so as to maintain their status in the community. THE EMERGING SOCIOLOGY OF CONSUMPTION The significance of class in society has been central to western cultural builds for centuries.
This was supported with Lavalette and Mooney when they said that there remains a enormous opposition to utilisation and functioning of the aspect of ‘class’ in strategy investigation, most probably for panic of its Marxist suggestions. However class is deliberately… primary to the social structure and consequently to investigating the performance and force it creates to the welfare state (Lavalette & Mooney, 2000, pp 5).
Nonetheless, human society has over the years shown a noticeable tendency to divide into dissimilar classes based on socio-economic factors. It is then though out to be due to an natural aspiration to compartmentalise and classify, and it is agreed upon in various ways by individual in the society even those who might be intimidated in the society since they are able to encourage the logic of comprehensiveness and togetherness in the society that helps them in creating the strong bond between them (Lavalette & Mooney, 2000, pp 17).
In the long run, this classes created have resulted in the indifferent in consumption rate of the luxury product in the market. These social structures replicate themselves over and over again, and for Pierre Bourdieu he believes that it can only be due to the fact that it offers some of the type of consolation.
He identifies the soundness of the dispute put forward by Thorstein Veblen, , who supposed that leisure class was capable of sustaining its supremacy by pressuring its significance in terms of the operation of society on an international level, a model which “allowed the upper classes to retain their privilege because they had engineered a situation in which they were necessary in a number of ways” (Veblen, 2007, pp170), but goes on to suggest that the mechanics of the engineering of such dominance and importance was hardly subtle, but rather was clear to everybody to visualise and could probably put it down (Bourdieu, 1993, pp 16).
For Bourdieu, ‘society’ was fundamentally the amount of the countless social relations that survived between individuals, and to some degree it was possible to extrapolate from those relationships in order to make certain key judgements about society. He felt that just as personal relationships give solace and comfort and allow people to feel stronger and more secure in their roles so society as a whole provided certain certainties that fostered general calm (Bourdieu, 1993, pp 19-23).
However, such a system was liable to fracture if sufficient pressure was placed on it, and there are obvious moments in history, most notably the French Revolution, when such pressure came about. The analogy is apposite, since the great pressure that is required causes a concomitantly violent shattering. Bourdieu believes that “this demonstrates the annoyance and bitterness rooted by the dissimilarities in society are not manipulated away by the social organizations that are in place subdued… when the opportunity for them to be expelled comes up, the result is aggression, annoyance and rebellion (Bourdieu, 1993, p.
84). However, such ‘violence, anger and anarchy’ lasts only a short time before the status quo is essentially re-established, albeit perhaps under a different guise – as Bourdieu notes, “there are dissimilarities between a sovereign and a president and a prime minister, but still individuals need centralised management (Bourdieu, 1993, pp 91). Ultimately, matters of luxury are used in order to provide a kind of restorative and recuperative balm to the social wounds that are created as the pressure is kept from causing rupture.
It’s key to note that, once again, luxury is relative: someone who lived in poverty will consider a cake to be luxury, yet someone who lives in total opulence might consider that same cake to be a sign of poverty. Therefore, the idea of a single ideological concept of ‘luxury’ must be considered in both relativist and empirically social terms. The key post-modern and post-structuralist philosopher in this area is Jean Baudrillard, who believed that consumption, rather than production, was the key driver of the modern society.
In this, he differed from Marx, and he went on to deconstruct Marx (and others’) central notion that needs are inherent in society rather than being constructed. For Baudrillard, this notion allows for the post-modern idea that the object can be separated from its meaning in such a dramatic way that the resulting contrast can create an entirely new meaning (Baudrillard, 1994, pp 70), one which may act as a non sequitur and which may contain a great deal of humour or pathos.
Baudrillard insisted, however, that this did not make a nonsense of attempts to understand society and its relation to production and consumption; merely that it disallowed the use of a number of trusted but ultimately far too simplistic notions. He believed that an object contained four key values: its functionality (i. e. what it was used for, on the most basic level); its exchange value (i. e. what it can be exchanged for, e. g. an apple for an orange, or three donkeys for a cart); its symbolic value (i. e. what it means on a personal level, e. g.
a book that was given as a gift from a lecturer to a student in order to recognise a particular bond that had existed between them); and finally its sign value (i. e. its relationship to other objects, e. g. the idea that perhaps one book has more value than another due to predominantly materialistic factors). Baudrillard believe that these four values constantly inter-acted, and were in many ways incompatible, although he felt that the resulting incompatibility, rather than reflecting problems with his theory, merely showed the difficulties that exist in society when conflicting ideas are forced to co-exist (Baudrillard, 1994, p.
79-111). Later in his career, Baudrillard entirely disavowed his earlier belief in the essentials (if not always the practice) of Marxist theories. Instead, he chose to focus on the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, and the ways in which the media is able to change the message. Baurillard believed that the media “thoroughly describe the technique in which the communication is understood, and to refute this… would be to refute a number of the main essential and well-known doctrines of human interaction” (Baudrillard, 1998, p.
4). Ultimately, Baudrillard believed that human interaction was a vastly complex concept capable of sustaining numerous conflicting philosophies and moral positions. He believed that luxury was one of a number of concepts that “enclose within themselves enormous disagreements, which (make them)… completely incredible in some ways, and yet they exist and we must explain them” (Baudrillard, 1998, pp 11).
While many of the other philosophers covered so far were keen to find explanations and philosophies that removed any friction, and that explained the entirety of human interaction, societal consumption and philosophical relativism, therefore, Baudrillard was keen to develop philosophies that were simultaneously all-inclusive and contradictory, since he believed that human society was fundamentally constructed from various ideas and beliefs that did not necessarily point in the same direction, but which were nevertheless able to co-exist (Baudrillard, 1998, p. 12-14).
Ultimately, Baudrillard was suggesting that human society benefits from the frictions that occur when these ideas are forced to work with each other. If Baudrillard’s ideas raise a number of interesting questions about the nature of consumption and class, the work of Peter Saunders in some ways goes further and illustrates the ways in which class has been subsumed, to a certain extent, by the matter of consumption and the ways in which access is controlled, granted and denied. Control is the key to the idea of consumption, and is representative of new, more modern methods of class stratification (Saunders, 1991 ed. , p.
57). If control rests in a few hands, it is important that those who lack control are not made to feel entirely as if they are servants and non-equals. Therefore, a degree of mollification is required in order to smooth over divisions and, as Veblen suggested, attempt to persuade the un-agented members of society that they are important parts of a vital social structure that inherently requires both agented and un-agented figures. With the reduction of the materials needed in the Jean Baudrillard theory, it has lead to the really issue that tend to affect the nation in their involvement in their purchase of the luxury goods
CULTURAL CONSUMPTION AS COMMUNICATION In this, culture has been used over the years to determine the purchasing behaviour of people in a society. Thus, we can say that, it has been one form of communication in the ways in which a particular culture tends to respond to a particular product in the market. In this finds the issue when people try to purchase luxury products such as the fashion good for the purpose of being identical in a given community. In the works of Veblen and Simmel, they believe in cultural aspect of a given community in term of the type of fashion that they involve themselves in.
in this, it has been clear that as much as the Chinese are best luxury purchase from London, they still tend to stick to their inherited behaviour of dressing code in the society (Simmel, 1964, p. 105-121). This has forced them to concentrate on other luxury goods such as the electronics and those involving themselves in fashion items; they still do so for the purpose of identity in the society. CULTURAL CONSUMPTION AS MANIPULATION This is the ways in which the culture has been changed to fit the demands of the customers in the society.
In this many of the scholars have come up with ways in which this can be attained in the society to facilitate the customers to purchase more luxury products from the market. To begin with, is the Frankfurt School which was a combination of left wing thinkers who believed that part of their colleagues had come to misrepresentation in the society? In this, it is then clear that, the thinkers wanted to change the minds of the society member in the ways in which they were thinking concerning the effect of communism on their purchase of luxury items in the market.
Walter Benjamin supposed that issues of consumption are directly related to the aura of objects, and the ways in which the modern advance in technology has permitted art to be produced both mechanically and industrially. According to him, he believes that the society have changed to be able to adapt to the luxury items in the market (Benjamin et all, 1999, pp 67). Roland Barthes, meanwhile, felt that symbols and signifiers had been greatly changed by bourgeois society agents who were struggling to sustain the largely fictive rationalisations upon which they depended (Barthes, 1993, p.
43). He felt that they had been subjected to change for the purpose of basing the weapon to the class issue in the society so that they could be able to control the rate at which every individual buy luxury item in society. In this, he wanted the issue of social class to be identified in the society in the way in which on purchases the luxury products. CONSUMER AGENDA On the establishment of this particular paper, the writer had a specific category of people in mind of which she use to determine the factors in that influences their buying of luxury product from London.
These are the young adult (20-30 years) found in china country, in this, she was concentrated on both the female and male people who have acquired the middle and upper class of living in the society. At this age, the population is usually at their working class and thus, they all strive hard to ensure that they attain good dressing standard that will make them look presentable before people at the workplaces. This makes them to strive hard in purchase of luxury items such as shoes, dresses, handbags and many more fashion item that can aid them I attaining their goal of being smart in the society.
Other than the age population looking for their items to use for grooming for the purpose of the type of work that they are involved in, they also tend to focus on maintaining their lifestyle in among the community. In this, most of the population just tend to have married or even still single and thus, they tend not to have much responsibility to engage their finances in and thus, they rather purchase some of the luxury household items that might serve them in future.
In this, we find them involving themselves in the purchase of electronics and many fancier items. In doing this, the customers not only purchase for the purpose of need for the item but they do purchase the product just to the fact that their colleagues have done so and thus, they have also to acquire the product to be grouped under the same category of people in the society. THEORY OF SHOPPING This tends to explain what real goes in mind of the shopper for any given product in the market.
In this particular theory, Miller Daniel argues out that, for one to be able to purchase an item in the market, he has to be able to think of other factors such as the need for the product, the features that the product poses and the affordability of the product in which will make it possible for him or her to acquire the item (Miller, 1998). Other than that, ones shopping depend basically on the level on consumption of the individual and the household relations that will trigger him or her to go out for shopping.
In so doing, she relates shopping to many other activities such as the relationship that one has with the rest of individuals around him, the purpose and the benefits that one gets from the activity. In so doing, she is able to distinguish between transients and transcendent while at the market. She also argues out that, in most cases, shopping depends on the level in which the producers have involved themselves in advertising and marketing of the product (Miller, 1998).
Basing on this theory, there has also rises major contradiction of consumption. These are the differences that arise in the definitions of consumption and the factors that people look at while purchasing products from the market. In the past, it was believed that, consumption depended on the style that he wanted, the identity of the individual in the society and the culture in which one comes from. With the change of technology and time, the elements that tend to trigger one to shop have changed too.
In this, majority of the individuals today have in the long run concentrated on other element such as on how strong the economy of a particular region is the political stability of the region, the social cohesiveness of the people in the region and the routine matters in the region in which they try to purchase from (Edward, 2000). It is of this reason that we find most of the Chinese purchasing their luxury items from London as they find the country to be economically and politically stable and thus able to deal with them in business issue.
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