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Work and Consumerism versus Ethics and Aesthetics 13


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Workand Consumerism versus Ethics and Aesthetics

Modernityaccording to Bauman involves a controlled form of social order, whichis organized in manageable yet familiar patterns. Modernity is madeup of bureaucracies, regulations, hierarchical orders and controlover society. Modernity is made up of strangers due to theindividuality due to consumerism. The society is concerned about therole of individuals in the economy and not about the person inparticular. Modern society is also concerned about division of labourinto small tasks in a bid to bring order to society. According toBauman, the difference between work and consumerism is the differencebetween ethics and aesthetics. Consumerism is concerned withaesthetics while work creates control through a set of ethics thatare created through knowledge development.

Accordingto Bauman, modern society was concerned with work as a way ofbringing order to society. Society divided work into small groups asa way of bringing order to society as the work would organize societyin bureaucratic levels. The society is always concerned withprosperity and the ethical notion of modern society only comes inwhen people have to mature (Crowther1993).This is because modern society is concerned about aesthetics and notethics. The post modern society is shaped by television ideas, whichis a central aspect of consumerism and aesthetics, more than work,which is a characteristic of the work (Corner&amp Pels 2003).

Workis about controlling nature and bringing order to society. Baumanargued that this was the reason society divided work into small tasksso that life is ordered into manageable and predictable categories.The concern of the work is to bring order, as a society is concernedabout freedom and security of life (Bauman1993).Consumerism, on the other hand, is concerned about the need forchange as the post modern society is always looking for somethinginteresting to change the otherwise predictable life. Work is onlyrelevant as a means of facilitating consumerism.

Baumanargued that the society lives in an infantilized world that is madeof liquid moderns who are always in a state of uncertainty. Theliquid modern is made up of people who are teenagers, adults andgrandparents in one (Bauman 2006). The consumerist society, which ispropelled by aesthetics, is always in a state of seeking a break fromthe predictable world order of time and work. Ethics is concernedabout adults making difficult decisions in cases where thepredictable world does not conform to the ordered system. Modernsociety has no ethics instead, it is about aesthetics andconsumerism.

Traditionalsociety was concerned about work and ethics. The society wasconcerned about performing duties and carrying out responsibilitiesin communal ways. The society was not individualistic. Modern societyworks in ordered ways and the society alienates individual from thesociety and work. The relationship between work and consumerism isthat the work facilitates consumerism and consumerism is a way ofescaping from the ordered way of work (Hall,Grindstaff &amp Lo 2010).The relationship between ethics and aesthetics is about placing theworld in order so that the consumerist society can enjoy aesthetics.

Thesociety operates on the surface of ideas and there is no depth inknowledge (Bauman 2006). The society is concerned about appearancesand not wisdom. The pursuit for knowledge, which is the basis forethics, is not taken seriously by modern society as a priority is tomake appearances based on the consumerist nature of society. Theliquid modern is always looking for a change in terms of aestheticvalue. Nothing lasts long enough to be understood by society as theinterest is about moving from one aesthetic appearance to another(Baranowski2004).

Workis different from consumerism as work is concerned about developingforms of knowledge and wisdom that improve society by controllingnature. Consumerism is about maintaining youth and appearance (Miller2007).The consumerist society does not go into depth of knowledge as thework. The difference is clear as it is in the ethics and aesthetics.The ethical society always looks for new forms of knowledge thatimprove ethical living while the aesthetic society is concerned aboutforms of appearance and has no need for knowledge about appearance asthe appearances are not stable.

Theconsumerist society is always looking out to celebrities as the idolsof society. Celebrities are the faces of the capitalist society andthey are a representation of aesthetic value. Liquid modern looks outfor celebrities and their consumerism patterns, and thus forming acult- like following around the celebrity based on the aestheticvalue of a celebrity. The liquid modern perceives celebrities as theface of the youthful generation that is self- absorbed and representsreinvention of the self (Robinson2006).The aesthetic value of the society is concerned with makeovers asappearances are more important than depth of knowledge. The focus isno longer about work and gaining knowledge, but appearance is thecore of the society and appearances are always changing.

Workis a reminder of the need to make society have an ordered form ofexistence that is guided by ethics. Ethics is the core of the orderlyform of work as work is guided by systems that maintain stability. Asociety that is based on work thus looks for knowledge so as toimprove on ethics that make the society orderly (Thomas2011).However, consumerism is about impulse activity and living in achildlike state that is always seeking pleasure (Espejo 2010). Thisforces the society to live in an artificial way so that a person canstay in touch with modernity. The aesthetic value has no depth ofknowledge because the concern is to stay abreast with the events andnot to understand the role of the appearance.

Modernforms of work place individuals in a society that treats modernpeople like machinery as the individuals are alienated from the workthey perform. The society uses the consumerism to escape from thehopelessness of the modern world. The post modern society is engagedin a slave- like existence where there is no independence of mind oractions. The society thus escapes this existence through excessiveshopping and consumption (Espejo 2010). The consumerist society isabout imitation of foreign ideas so as to keep up with appearancesbecause the society has no time for details regarding the existenceof society.

Workdrives consumerism as work alienates people from society. Work makesthe society individualistic and the only form of interaction isthrough television (Corner&amp Pels 2003).Television drives consumerism by highlighting the importance of newitems in society, which help people to keep up with appearances. Inthe modern society, the liquid generation is concerned about work,which helps people to fit within the capitalist society (Beilharz2000). The capitalist society encourages consumerism and new ideasare always being invented. In order for individuals to fit withinsociety, they indulge in consumerism so as to keep up withappearances.

Theconsumerist society is concerned about imitation and absorption ofmanufactured ideas. The modern society does not indulge inconsumption and processing of ideas and it is only interested inconsuming ready- made ideas. The ready- made ideas do not shape theintellect of the consumerist society as the society does not consumethe intellectual part of ideas (Beilharz 2000). The consumption ofideas is only at the aesthetic value and this is why the society hasno grounded ideas, and imitation prevails. The imitation of ideas isdone on impulse as the point of the consumerist society is to derivepleasure in indulging.

Consumerismis about freedom of living, but the prevalence of imitation limitshuman freedom as there is no intellectual input into ideas (Fairchild2012).Work brings forth a culture of individual performance of ideas so asto propel solid modernity. Work puts pressure on individuals so as toimprove performance. The individuals look for freedom and relaxationin consumerism and aestheticism (Ali 2013). The individuals do notput intellect in consumerism as the idea behind shopping is to keepup with appearances based on imitations. This limits freedom as theworkers are dependent on the work of other people and theirintellectual ideas do not go into consumerism.

Aestheticsdoes not observe ethics as consumers blame manufacturers when thingsdo not go as planned. The consumers do not use ethics when consumingand that is why they blame manufacturers when things go wrong insteadof finding solutions (Berger2010).People are not concerned about the activities in society instead thefocus is on individual efforts and activities that are within theirreach (Schwartz2010).These are activities that are within individual consumption andcapacity based on skills. The individuals are not free as theypurport, but they are bound by the consumption culture, which isbeyond their control and input.

Skillsearned in modern society are driven by consumption as the skills aregeared towards providing service to the society. Aesthetics requiresskills and knowledge in specific fields that satisfy the consumeristsociety. The society consumes these skills and individuals thus earnskills that can be utilized by society. Individuals do not have thefreedom to earn skills that are for personal interest (Berghoff&amp Kühne 2013).The skills must be relevant to the consumers who are only interestedin the aesthetic value and not intellectual value of commodities.

Therole of the consumerist is to create a uniform society whosedecisions are limited to brands and not ideas. Ideas in society areuniform and commodities follow the same ideas. The ethics thatgoverned productivity are non- existent as there are no unique ideas.Traditional work was based on the development of ideas and knowledgeso as to bring diversity in society. However, in a consumeristsociety, the ideas are uniform as the society only seeks to conformand not to come up with unique ideas (Davis 2008). The society is notintellectually free as consumption is based on the same options andthere is no diversity of ideas or actions.

Workbrings order to society as the work places ideas and actions intoperspectives. The idea behind work is to place knowledge and skillsinto context so as to bring order and following rules of society.Work seeks to make people conform to society so as to have order andstability. The role of ethics is to also bring order to society andfacilitate stability. On the other hand, consumerism is based onconsuming ready- made ideas without putting any intellectual thoughtinto the item (Blackshaw 2005). The aesthetic value of an item is themost important thing and the consumers are only interested in fittingin what is trending.

Aestheticsis guided by taste while ethics is driven by morality. The role ofaesthetics is to make individuals like they fit in a certain group inthe society as the work creates individualism and consumerism createsa sense of belonging. Ethics are concerned with controlling theactions of society and thus, bring people together automatically(Schwartz2010).Ethics uses knowledge and wisdom to make people conform whileaesthetics uses tastes and preferences to bring people together.Ethics governs a society that already has unity and a sense ofbelonging while aesthetics governs people who are interested in asense of belonging.

Workis divided into smaller groups so as to control nature and categorizesociety (Levi&amp Rothberg 2003).Categorization brings order in an otherwise chaotic society whichrequires an order so as to function as planned. The order is broughtabout by ethics, which guide how work is performed and this limitsthe freedom of society (Tester 2004). Consumerism gives people as asense of freedom as people feel as if they are free to do as theywish with no control. However, consumerism is still a limitation aspeople conform to what society has already created.

Thecelebrity life creates an illusion that sustains consumerism.Celebrities create an illusion of reaching a certain status if peoplework hard enough or conform to what is sold by celebrities. Thesociety is always in a state of daze as people are not concerned bythe intellectual content behind celebrities (Gonzalez2010).People are only concerned about keeping up with appearances and notconsuming the intellectual value behind a celebrity (Tester 2004).This is important for capitalists who are concerned about sustainingconsumerism for profits. Capitalists create a grand image around acelebrity and then make people to believe that the status of acelebrity is attainable via consumerism.

Liquidmodernity has no stability as capitalists are always changing what isconsidered aesthetically acceptable. The capitalists bleed thecelebrity by ensuring that the celebrity becomes the face of what isconsidered aesthetically trending (Harris2000).The capitalists create trends that are then sold to consumers, whoare waiting to consume what is sold to them without putting much intothem. The celebrity is the face of imitation as the society tries tolook like a celebrity by conforming to what the celebrity presents astrendy (Bauman 1998). This is brought about by division of labourwhere everyone is, only concerned about his own abilities and thenconsumes what is made by people with other skills. There is noknowledge that goes into consuming what a person cannot produce.Imitation occurs as many people with no skills consume what, iscreated by a certain set of skills.

Inconclusion, consumerism is concerned with aesthetics while workcreates control through a set of ethics that are created throughknowledge development. The role of consumerism is to create a senseof freedom in society because individuals seek to escape from thecontrol exerted by work, which is guided by ethics. Consumerismcreates a society where everyone tries to remain young and thecelebrity is the face of trends. The society is made up of imitationsas people seek to be part of the trend and not to come up with newideas. The role of work is to entrench bureaucracies and controlsociety. Consumerism gives a false sense of freedom.


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