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China Society and Consumerism Essay

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Updated: Apr 17th, 2020

China is one of the most developed countries of the Third World. Also, it is the most populated country in the world. Thus, it is no wonder that its consumerism market is also one of the most fast developing among the countries of the Third World. Consumerism culture in China was developed under the influence of many factors: social, historical, political, and cultural. Chinese historical and cultural traditions are very important for determining and developing of Chinese economic reforms and consumerist culture.

Over the last decade, the Chinese economy became more open, and the country addressed more to the consumerist culture. Under the influence of these factors, Chinese society formed its own approach to consumerism, and today there is a particular “consumerism behavior” in the country. However, today, because of the rise of inflation and “income disparity,” the consumer marked in China faces big challenges.

There are also other issues that influence on this process, they include the increase of “purchasing power” and “the appreciation of yuan”. To understand the future development of Chinese consumerism culture and behavior, it is important to explore and understand their historical context. Indeed, the 20th century was a period of great changes in history and culture of the Chinese society that caused changes in consumer characteristics of it since 1914 till present.

In the period since 1914 till present, the attitude and of the world to the economic, social and cultural relations has changed. World wars and numerous revolutions provided the establishment of global relations between countries, as well as initiated the process of the establishment of the equality between men and women; many colonies gained independence and established their own nations, etc.

All these events and processes influenced the development of the Chinese culture as well and caused big changes in economic and political areas. The major events that influenced on the development of the consumerist culture in China were: the establishment of China Republic in 1912 and its early years till the 1920s, Cultural Revolution and establishment of communism and as a result of it the establishment of women’s equality, land collectivization and equality between classes.

The east Asian civilizations fall under the influence of the Western world after World War II, “the western influences permeated popular culture. Western style of dress, sports, and music gained acceptance in the cities (Stearns, 2010, p.554) In the 1970s; there were changes in domestic consumption.

The enterprises distributed social “welfare benefits” providing some consumer items that were still not available for many people. It was a bureaucratic fiat that took a distribution of the consumer goods in its hands and influenced greatly on many domains of social relations, “the government regulated large sectors of the economy and even family life” (Stearns, 2010, p. 556). However, as Peter N. Stearns (2010) mentions in his book that:

“China, the mother country of East Asian civilization, did not participate fully in the initial east Asian economy boom until the end of the 20th century. The political system remained resolutely authorial. In China, from the late 1040s on, communist officials prevented political opposition, monopolized the main sources of information and propaganda, and abandoned all pretense of establishing a Western-style parliamentary regime” (p. 555 – 556).

These days, China society gradually adopts the consumer traditions and lifestyle of the Western world. The Third World media is the largest “distributor of consumerism”, it is controlled by the capitalism class that dominates in the world. Further changes in the social structure and consumerism culture were caused by the Industrial Revolution in China.

The Industrial Revolution in China caused the revolution in consumption, and it was one more major factor that contributed to the development of the consumerism and made this country a leader in the newly industrialized world economic. Chinese people got access to new models of communication and various types of commercialized outlets.

Consumers’ behavior has changed, and their need and desires have grown. The consumerism culture in China filled an everyday life and structured people’s everyday experience. The consumerism even regulated people’s relations to products that determined their everyday life experience.

Many psychologists and cosmologists call consumerism “a way of life”. Thus, the study of consumerism and consumption of different types of goods by customers must take into consideration such issues as the production of consumer services, as well as goods and the ways they are used. Today people give a great value to material possession, and consumer culture in the world is characterized by a statement “we tent to consume more than we need for life”.

Historically, people produced different products to cover their basic needs, but with the Industrial Revolution, the things have changed. The revolution caused great changes in consumption behavior, and product consumption increased among all social classes. The major impact of the Industrial Revolution is that it turned the old production oriented society to consumption oriented one.

With the rise of technology, the demands of the consumption oriented society, as technology is one of the most influential social devices that are oriented on the everyday expression of consumerism traditions. The development of technologies has brought a great variety of consumer products and contributed to the increase in the standards of living.

Also, they put new relations between consumers and products. Fashion is one more crucial factor that shapes the consumerism culture and reinforces consumption of products. It has a psychological basis, as “fashion creates a desire to buy products. In other words, the more consumers are encouraged to buy, the more they buy indeed.

Analyzing all mentioned above, we can come up to the conclusion that consumer culture and media are closely related, especially in modern society. The role of television and advertising cannot be underestimated.

Chinese people are greatly affected by this factor as they have a very developed media. These days, television and the internet have spread the “spirit” of consumerism around the world. These days, there is certain type of relations between society and television. China is placed among highly productive countries. Thus it is considered to be a highly “consumptive” as well.

As it has already been mentioned, China adopts the western lifestyle. Today, Chinese society is characterized by an endless appetite for consumer goods and services. It is not only because the country is overpopulated, but because it has one of the biggest internal markets in the world which is developing very fast. The major areas of consumption are food, electronic goods, clothes and entertainment. In the world marked, China is famous for its cheap products, but it has big ambitions to create its brands.

The Chinese luxury consumerism should also be mention, today it is one of the largest in the world. For example, the main customers who visit such famous shopping streets like Fifth Avenue in New York and Bond Street in London are Chinese tourists. Also, their own Luxury marked becomes the largest in the world. One should not forget about the connection between consumerism and the environment. Consumerism culture influences negatively on the environment.

The habits of a modern lifestyle may cause great ecological changes, especially if people will not start thinking about reducing their ecological footprints. As the most active consumers, Chinese people affect greatly on the environment. The impact of the products and the production process should be reorganized. Certain steps have already been done in this direction. Today, green products and services are becoming more popular, certain policies have been produced in order to regulate “fuel efficient standards”.

So, Chine is the country of the Third World that is considered to be one of the biggest consumers and has the most developed consumerism culture in the world. As Stearns (2010) claims, “East Asia, more influential in the wider world by the early 21st century than at any previous point in history, has maintained its ability to see the world through its own length” (p. 559).

The consumerism traditions and characteristics of the country were developed under the influence of many historical events that occurred over the last decades and provided great changes in the social structure and culture of Chinese people. The major impact on the development of the consumerism behavior and culture had an Industrial Revolution that turned a productive oriented society into the consuming oriented one.

These days, Chinese people adopt the lifestyle of the Western countries that also have a great influence on its consumer characteristics. Though the majority of consumed products are produced by national companies, Chinese people actively explore the foreign market and products, especially in the area of the automobile industry.

However, the country has a big potential in the creation of its brands for all products and cars including. Thus, we can say that fast-developing consumerism in China can change greatly the world’s economic balance.

References List

Stearns, P. N. (2010). World History in Brief: Major Patterns of Change and Continuity Combined Volume, 7th edition. New York: Pearson.

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