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Those left behind: inequality in consumer culture

Hamilton, K.L. (2009) Those left behind: inequality in consumer culture. Irish Marketing Review, 20 (2). pp. 40-54. ISSN 0790-7362

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Abstract

Economic growth in Northern Ireland has undoubtedly raised the standard of living for many consumers and contributed to a growing culture of consumption. However, this heroic discourse masks the various social problems associated with economic growth, in particular, the deepening of inequality. This article aims to demonstrate the lived experience of poverty against the backdrop of a society that is increasingly dominated by consumption. Findings suggest that limited financial resources and the resulting consumption constraints are a source of stress and dissatisfaction. Such dissatisfaction stems from feelings of exclusion from the 'normal' consumption patterns that these consumers see around them. It is only by highlighting their stories that we can really understand the full consequences of what it means to live in a consumer culture. The importance of social support to counteract marketplace exclusion is also highlighted, reinforcing the need to consider capital in all its forms and not only from an economic perspective.