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Session Chair: Arne Dulsrud, Oslo Metropolitan University
Location:BS.G.34 Manchester Metropolitan University
Building: Business School, Ground Floor
‘Welcome to the Shopping Revolution’: The Metro Centre and the Rise of Neoliberal Consumerism
Emma Helen Casey
Northumbria University, United Kingdom
In October 1986, the Newcastle Chronicle devoted its entire edition to celebrating the opening of the new shopping mall, the Metro Centre. Marking a dramatic shift in terms of ‘new’ modes of consumption and commerce, the Metro Centre promised ‘choice’, ‘sparkle’ and ‘a focal point for a community’. A letter from the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was published on the front page and promised that the Metro Centre would bring community enhancement, employment opportunities and an increased sense of local pride.
Drawing on and presenting original archive material from the Metro Centre and Tyne and Wear Archives, the paper will examine the extent to which the Metro Centre marked a call to ‘accept the prevailing ideals’ of consumption (Coward, 1984: 29) and a key moment for the reformulation of self-hoods and consumer identity practices. It argues that rather than offering community and collectivity,, the Metro Centre marked the rise of hyper-real dream-worlds (Baudrillard, 1992) and a highly individualized and anonymous consumer experience (Chaney, 1993). Furthermore, the shifting discourses around consumerism that occurred during this time, set the foundations for the emergence of a new neoliberal consumer citizen; one which offered the illusion of choice, personal growth and betterment. These aspiration and meritocratic ideals became interwoven into a new language of consumption promoted by the Metro Centre. The paper concludes by proposing that the Metro Centre came to embody new neoliberal notions of social worth, value and inclusion entwined with engagement in new processes and practices of consumption.
Economic Scarcity and Wellbeing: Consumption-Based Measures for Poverty and Deprivation
Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
It has been widely recognised that income in itself may not accurately reflect people’s economic circumstances. In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on multidimensional measures of poverty and material deprivation. In this study, we employ the newest survey data from Consumption Research Norway to explore the relationship between economic scarcity and psychological wellbeing in Norway. The study first defines economic scarcity by identifying multiple disadvantaged social groups in terms of income, wealth, consumption, and material deprivation. It then studies the impact of economic scarcity on psychological wellbeing, using propensity score matching estimations with bootstrapped standard errors. The study applies empirical evidence from Norway to the existing literature of poverty and wellbeing studies. It also has policy relevance in improving the quality of life of people with low socioeconomic status.
Too Poor to Die: Commodification and ‘Market Violence’ in Funeral Crowdfunding
Ella Lillqvist, Anu A. Harju
University of Helsinki, Finland
GoFundMe is the world’s largest social fundraising platform where fundraising campaigns range from the mundane to the more socially and politically acute causes. In this article, we approach funeral crowdfunding as a form and consequence of ‘market violence’: harm or suffering inflicted on people by the inherent logic of the market (Fırat, 2018). Drawing from Marxism, there is no escape from being part of—and in some ways enslaved by—the market; yet some people suffer from market violence more than others.
Through the conceptual lens of market violence, we can see double harm: First, the market harms especially the poor by excluding them from essential services like healthcare; funerals are another socially important service needed for a dignified life. Second, individuals subjected to this kind of market violence are offered a market solution, crowdfunding, where the memory of the deceased becomes a commodity exchanged for money. However, the platform solution does little to help with the original problem of market violence. Engaged in a grotesque popularity contest, many campaigns fail to reach their funding targets; crowdfunding can thus further marginalize the already marginalized. In addition, there is the ethical question of lack of consent on the part of the dead.
Taking a critical discourse studies approach, we analyse the texts and images used in funeral crowdfunding on GoFundMe. We shed light on how the memory of the dead is commodified in the narratives aimed at attracting donations, and how deservingness is constructed in these narratives.
Fırat, A. F. (2018). Violence in/by the market. Journal of Marketing Management, 34(11–12), 1015–1022.