You are what you buy! The definition of retail therapy is shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer's mood or disposition. This can include food, clothing, cars etc. There has always been a link between personal possessions and identity. In modern times, we think we can buy this identity, through our shopping choices. Read the two articles in the left-hand margin.
What sort of shoes do you wear? What sort of phone do you have? How do you listen to your music - iPod Nano or plain old MP3 player?
However, we are not just talking about the act of acquiring possessions here, we are talking about the activity or pursuit called shopping. What kind of gratification do we get from going shopping? Why do we enjoy it?
Where do you shop?
What do you mainly buy?
What pleasures do you get?
Shopping as experience
“ Men go to buy things, women go and buy things” (mall trades boyfriends for sensitive man)
Shopping as lifestyle, recreation, aspiration, immersing in experience
Shopping as cultural practice – analyse rules and meanings associated with the ways we consume
Cathedrals of consumption
Shopping, not religion, the opiate (drug) of the people
= Money is god, shopping is ritual, shops are churches
This view sees consumer as passive
We can think about how constrained and or liberated we are by our purchases?
High? Low? – Jean Baudrillard
Blurring of distinction between high and low cultures in general (arcades)(window dressing)
Leads to need for new social hierarchy – shopping fills the gap
Focuses on personal choice and freedom via cash - leads to us focusing on
Baudrillard think we are not controlled by business/shops but they create a new reality - hyperreality
A world that seems more real than the real world.
Shopping fulfils this function
History of Shopping
What was it like to shop in past eras? Did people treat it as a leisure pursuit? Is it part of British culture? Read what people have to say here. Have a look at this archive footage on the BBC website and find out!
How does value relate to shopping? Do we only value what we buy? Do we value things by how much they cost? Is culture becoming devalued?
Marxist Perspective of Shopping
The Marxist view of shopping is that all consumption is merely a way to keep the masses happy - we consume because we are pursuing false needs, created by capitalists, intent on keeping us hooked on 'stuff' - more and more of it, to make us happy!
Feminist perspective of shopping
Clothing (heels, dresses etc) seen as objectifying
Male designers, male centered industry
Men’s clothing utilitarian, women’s flattering
Food shopping traditionally feminine role
Spa products as self indulgent
Retail therapy aimed at women
Packaging and branding gendered
If you could choose five items which belong to you to define who you are for other people, what would you choose and why? What do they say about you?
Make a poster depicting these items and write some descriptive text