Global consumerism and power in its third dimension

Bhavya Kumar

The paper ‘Global Consumerism and Power in its Third Dimension’ has been written with the objective of portraying the contemporary neo-liberal market economies as holding certain positions of power and authority over the consumers across the world.  The mode of exercising the same is not coercion, rather, the appropriation of the impressionable minds of the consumers. While treading this path one wonders how effective are the assumptions of pure economics which hold the consumer to be a rational being adhering to the law of marginal utility, feasibility of the intersection of the supply-demand curves to give a perfect equilibrium thereby giving an impression of a win-win situation to both producers and consumers. 
The aim of the article is to establish the role of the power wielded by the market and corporate houses on the consumer community by and large at par with the neo-liberal and classical economic rules and assumptions to understand the dynamics of the contemporary market economies.  I seek to concentrate on the ‘third dimension’ of power that is exercised by the market forces; for which I borrow from the work of Steven Lukes on the dimensions of power and his contribution to the same by theorizing about the third dimension of power.  This enables me to substantiate my argument that market forces perpetuate their power by making the consumers believe in the inevitable possession of goods and services, which the consumers can otherwise make-do without! This is accompanied by a culture of conspicuous consumption and the emergence of a consumerist class. I depend on the work of Thorstein Vebler (The Leisure Class) to explain the origin and existence of a ‘leisure class’, which has only expanded today by the inclusion of the new middle class.

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