In Lury’s chapter 4, she talks about consumption being dichotomous. While we did not discuss this in class, the concept really resonated with me and stuck in my mind while doing other activities. Since I spend way too much time online, I, at some point, discovered an article on Jezebel talking about how the “middle-class” tampon no longer exists. In it, the author explains that due to the current economic climate and patterns of consumption, there are now two kinds of products; luxury and bargain. While I am certain there are exceptions to this rule, this point seemed fairly potent.

I immediately thought of two kinds of “women’s products” when I read this article. There is the “bargain” tiny o.b. brand ones that have no real packaging and can be bought in packs of a bajillion* (*number slightly exaggerated). There are also the “new, luxury” products by Kotex that come in “cool, fancy” packaging and the maximum quantity purchased in one package is a lot smaller than that of the bargain brand. I’m not sure what the demographic split is on these consumers because I am almost certain that those that could afford the luxury tampons, simply choose the other brand however I do find it amusing that such a split has been not only created but also exaggerated.

In class we talked about how the decision to live a certain lifestyle is not as free as expected due to financial constraints among others. This tied in to Lury’s note on the dichotomies of consumption as well. In this respect I thought of Wednesday’s class discussion where we discussed High Cultural Capitol Consumption and that those who consume in this manner prefer socially scarce commodities. The HCC consumers are part of another dichotomy, then. They consume based on knowledge that will cause them to gain CC while others consume based on factors irrelevant of CC. I am curious as to what other dichotomies cultural capital is a factor in. Sometimes it is not luxury versus bargain or differentiating knowledge that divides consumers, but instead means of production, or even the means of consumption that divide. There are people who prefer American Apparel to Urban Outfitters, not because they represent a different aesthetic or price point, but because one is factory made in the United States and the other has some products that are mass produced in unsafe conditions across the world. What I find even more interesting than this dichotomy is the consumption of “cheaper” clothing. At one point, thrift shopping became very popular. However, if you truly want cheap and speedy clothing, it is actually much cheaper to consume from places like Target, Kohls or Kmart. So even within the divide that the Jezebel article points out, luxury versus bargain, there are further dichotomies; fair production versus mass production, or trendy cheap versus speedy cheap. My question from this would be, do these divides create polar dichotomies of consumption or multiply the options to create a scale?

 

-Sophie

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