There is no need to stress the necessity to analyze the consumption issue, which has recently become the key driving force behind most of the present-day business, production, media and even education solutions.
Being targeted at consuming the provided services, people are likely to stop being creative and focus on thoughtless consumption of the provided products instead of developing a critical approach towards the latter.
Spreading all over the globe, the consumption problem has finally become an issue in the Japanese society.
In his Approaching the Japan through the study of consumption, the Chapter 1 to the book titled Contemporary urban Japan: A sociology of consumption, John Clammer (2008) specifies the major features of the Japanese consumption processes, as well as provides the key driving power behind the consumption process and offers prognoses for the consumption rates in Japan in the next few decades.
When speaking of the ways in which consumption affects the society and how it influences the culture of a specific nation, Japan is the last state that one might think of.
Indeed, with its long-lasting ancient traditions, which are cherished nowadays with just as much fervor as they were several centuries ago, the specific philosophy of the Japanese people and a pace of life, which is completely different from the one adopted in the Western world, Japan might seem the last state that might be actually threatened by the effects of thoughtless consumption.
However, the problem seems to have become much more massive than one might have actually thought it would ever do.
According to Clammer’s report, the naivety of the Japanese population, as well as the readiness with which they accept the latest changes and innovations without questioning them first has played a nasty trick on the Japanese people, and the effects of consumerism have come as a result.
Another issue that Clammer brings up is the way in which the principles of consumption were introduced into the Japanese society. As it has been mentioned above, the Japanese world is somewhat isolated from the influences of the rest of the world.
While maintaining contacts with the Asian, European and American states, it still leads a life of its own, with its traditions, principles and philosophy, which picks a question concerning the way in which the Japanese society has managed to catch the consumerist “virus”.
According to Clammer, there are several ways to explain the given phenomenon. On the one hand, the availability of the information and, which is even more important, the amount of the available information makes people highly dependable on mass media, and the Japanese are no exception.
On the other hand, Japan has become much more open towards international contacts after the WWII, as Clammer explains. Thus, Japan switched from capitalist economics to consumer capitalism, following the examples of the rest of the European states and the USA.
Followed by an increase for department stores all over the state and the process of socialization through media and advertizing, consumption led to the lack of control in the social construction of desires, which became the final straw that broke the camel’s back.
The Japan finally fell under the impact of consumerist ideas, Clammer says.
According to Clammer, consumption should not be regarded only as a negative phenomenon; by consuming certain production, people can communicate their demands.
In addition, consumption rates help inform the entertainment and/or production companies about their tastes and their major demands concerning what people would like to see the elements of entertainment and the products, which they consume on a daily basis, like.
As Clammer puts it, media serves as a mediator between the popular culture and the process of its transformation, which means that the results of media consumption analysis help deliver the producers of the specified media the information concerning what people would like to see.
In addition, it is worth keeping in mind that consumerist attitudes are powered to a considerable extent by the technological development of the state, the efficacy of the marketing processes within the state’s major industries and the relationships of the latter to much larger social factors.
Therefore, high rates of consumerism within a state also show its progress, which means that the consumerism issue is a double-sided sword.
The issue regarding the social stratification must also be brought up. According to what Clammer says, consumerism contributes to splitting the society into smaller groups.
Therefore, the advent of consumerism in Japan heralds the era when the middle class is divided into even more mini-societies according to the group preferences and most frequently consumed products.
The given process, however, cannot be considered as negative one, given the fact that it promotes individuality. Therefore, it offers a way to tip the scale between mass consumption and the choice of an individual towards the latter.
Finally, the issue of gender and age as they are viewed through a consumerist lens must be considered.
Unfortunately, even with its powerful influence on the majority of the population, consumerism did not change the Japanese concept of women as housewives and did not open new doors for women either in media, or in any other sphere.
However, under women’s pressure and consumerism, men have also started growing interest in consumption. As for the age as related to consumerism in Japan, as it should have been expected, the younger audience turned out the most susceptible to the influence of the media.
However, the given problem can be solved by involving parents, who can influence the buyer’s choices of their kids and, thus, help them form a more reasonable approach towards the process of product consumption.
Thus, judging by the merits of the first chapter, Approaching the Japan through the study of consumption, the rest of the book written by J. Clammer must be just as insightful and intriguing.
By offering curious theories of the way in which the Japanese society develops and what role consumption plays in this development process, as well as giving graphic examples that prove his point, Clammer makes a very interesting statement concerning the modern Japan.
By claiming that Japanese major cities can actually serve as the barometer of the entire Japan society and simultaneously showing how radical the changes within the Japanese cities, such as Tokyo, are, Clammer makes it clear that the state is experiencing a the surge of innovations brought onto the Japanese society by the changes in the Western civilization.
Seeing how Japan is moving rapidly towards globalization and how high the urbanization rates in Japan are, one may claim with certainty that the Japanese society is standing at the threshold of major changes.
Clammer, J. (2008). Approaching the Japan through the study of consumption. In J. Clammer (Ed.), Contemporary urban Japan: A sociology of consumption (pp. 3–51). New York, NY: Wiley.