The Rate Of Individualization Consumption Cultural Studies Essay

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The following paper describes a proposed study that will analyze the rate of individualization in models of consumption in two Russian regions: Central Administrative District and Far Eastern district according to current view on consumer behavior in sociology.

In fact there is no such a model of consumption in sociology that will be able to answer all questions about consumption. In each of these subfields of areas of sociology we investigate various aspects of consumption. So in this work the concept of consumption will be investigated by its rate of individualization. Also this work will be focused on the goal to learn how the regionality of people determines their consumer behavior.

Well, traditional consumption in sociology is simply a process of wealth destruction. But, paying attention to the specifity of this inquiry, it should be mentioned that consumption is an act of of systematic manipulation of signs" [4] . This definition is better integrated in our theoretical model.

The main method of this investigation is online poll, which will help firstly identify some models of consumption and secondly select those models that are most relevant to our conceptual model of individualized consumption.

We hope that the results of the study will be useful both for sociologists and marketeers. For sociologists, it would be a good tool for social theorizing. For marketeers it would be a great tool for analyzing consumer markets and consumer demands in these regions.

These principles are realized in two tendencies of a modern post Soviet space: desire to join the majority, or desire to excel. In our model the desire to excel will be recognized as a manifestation of individualized consumption. In other words the most important aspect of this kind of consumption is a desire to innovate. The most significant factors here are the status factors of this consumption. In this vein it will be useful to apply the theory of Thorstein Veblen about demonstrative consumption that was performed by him on his book: "The theory of the leisure class". So the main characteristics of the goods, purchased by this type of consumer, will be its quality and whether this good is advertised or not.

Within this model these basic peculiarities, our model assumes other features. We think that proponents of this model of consumption prefer traditionally proven products and they pay little attention to the quality of these goods. They do not chase after the novelty of these goods and they do not attracted by advertised goods.

In his book, Veblen argues that economic life is driven by social vestiges from pre-historic times. In other words economic life is socially integrated. This fact is shown by Veblen referring to the practices of anthropologists and juxtaposing realities and practices of a tribal and modern life.

Veblen claimed that "the leisure class managed to retain its position through both direct and indirect coercion….At the same time, it made the rest of the tribe feel dependent on the leisure class's continued existence due to the fear of hostilities from other tribes or, as religions began to form, the hostility of imagined deities" [8] 

In G.Simmels' large monograph "philosophy of money" the author describes the process of expanding distribution of the model of living in terms "target-means". So instrumental rationality displaces all other forms of rationality. The mind takes over and suppresses feelings. In this book Simmel also developed an original theory of estrangement, which was in the focus scope in views of the Hungarian philosopher Gyorgy Lukacs. G.Simmel analyzes both the continuous growth of the "objective spirit" on the one side, (in the Hegelian sense) and how cultural objects make us more and more powerless. G.Simmel says that the things we produce became our masters.

So, this work will help us to get the better understanding of sociological world of values.

Simmel G. "Fashion"

In this inquiry G.Simmel sees fashion as a highly variable process that is deeply connected with urbanization and modernization. New sections of population underline their independence from old authorities by the means of fashion. In fact they consume such type of goods that could fastly approve their specific social status. Also G.Simmel states that the fashion suggests the possibility of individual achievements. Mainly because everybody could not, even theoretically, keep up with fashion. Moreover, fashion is universal and regulates virtually all spheres of social life. The main idea here is to understand fashion as imitation. In other words fashion is imitation of behavior patterns and it is undoubtedly a product of the division of classes. Only part of the group follows fashion, while others are on the way to it. And when others come up to fashion, it ceases to be such.

So, as we remember the concept of mass consumption appeared in Russia after the collapse of the USSR. Well the rules of its functioning are very similar to Simmel's concept of fashion.

Baudrillard J. "The society of consumption"

In this book the author states that consumption covers all areas of social life, and organizes our daily lives. In fact, consumption is not a private sphere - it is active and collective action. In this vein, consumption becomes a universal that organizes of everyday life. It is influenced by moral standards and principles and should be thought as social institution. It represents a value system or a system of group integration and social control.

In fact, author determines the process of consumption as an act of systematic manipulation of the signs. In other words, consumption becomes a means of social construction of sense of identity.

In summary, this study emphasizes the aesthetic side of consumption and its importance to our identity.


This part of the proposal explains the methods that are going to be used in carrying out the study.

In fact the ideal method of this work would be an interview. But due to strong resource constraints, it was decided to conduct online research. Then access to respondents will be found in the following ways [9] :

interception from different web sites using pop-up surveys

river sampling - recruiting with banners at public sites

surveys on the database of email addresses

online panels, including specialized

recruitment of online communities (FaceBook, etc.)

There will be about 30 value-oriented issues on consumption in the questionnaire of the study. The total sample size would be about 600 respondents.

The most adequate method for formation of models of consumption is factor analysis and cluster analysis. Factor analysis as a set of models and methods that are intended to compress the information received. The main hypothesis here is an assumption that observed or measured parameters are indirect characteristics of the studied phenomenon or object, but in fact there are internal parameters or properties that are defining observed parameters. These internal parameters are called factors. The main goal of factor analysis is to provide observed parameters as a linear combination of factors and maybe some additional not significant quantities. There are two methods for extracting factors [10] - orthogonal and oblique. By the means of orthogonal extracting we possess factor axes perpendicular to each other, so that every single factor is completely independent from other factors. At oblique extraction factors are not completely independent from each other and there is some commonality between them.

Of cause, mathematically it's easier to get orthogonal projections of the factors that should be used to reduce the number of variables. An oblique solution here suggests that features of a single person should somehow correlate with each other, so they could better characterize a man as a whole person. But because the problem of the interpretation of the factors, at this stage of investigation, a methodology of oblique solutions were not considered to be held. So the most appropriate model here will be Principal Component Analysis.

Cluster analysis is a set of mathematical methods, intended to generate distant from each other groups of close to each other facilities by the informational links between them. In practice, cluster analysis is a generic name of a various sets of algorithms that are used in the classification of objects [11] . These methods of cluster analysis can be divided in two large groups - hierarchical and non-hierarchical. Among them we can select the method of average distances, Ward's method and the method of k-means. The method of k-means allows to abstain more reliable results than any of the hierarchical methods, in addition, it is not so sensitive to the size of the array data.

Also it will be very important to evaluate the benefit of classification that we will obtain on the independent variables. The clusters that we will obtain should differ by socio-demographic characteristics.

Thus, we will apply following procedures: principal Component analysis, rotating factors by varimax method, and cluster analysis by k-means. One of the main methods of primary test of the results anticipated will be the method of measurement of sampling adequacy (Measure of sampling adequacy) of Kaiser, Meyer, Olkin (KMO test)