Mass consumption society, the urban consumer, the pursuit of well-being, modernity, post modernity and product symbolisms…
All these terms are representative for a global debate about the crisis of, but also the new opportunities through mass consumption mechanisms in industrialized societies as indicator of socio-cultural changes in a time, which is often described with the ill-defined term of post modernity. The presentation will explore the consumer-driven pursuit of a good life quality in contemporary Japan and the emergence of the ‘new urban consumer’. It argues that this process is supported by the socio-cultural generation of consumer needs and lifestyle paradigms pushed through leading corporations predominantly since the early 1980s. It will discuss selected consumption trends in Japan and will illustrate them through a case study of the retail company and ‘lifestyle department store’ Mujirushi Ryōhin.
Based on qualitative research and using the framework of Consumer Culture Theory (CCT), this presentation will reveal that the linkage between market, consumers and culture is significant for understanding operating mechanisms in contemporary Japanese society in economic, social and cultural matters which is in turn crucial for understanding the developments in a global sphere.
This presentation is part of a dissertation project (working title: ‘Happiness Consumption in Japan – An Exploration of Japanese Consumer Worlds and Lifestyle Scenarios’).
Christiane Rühle studied Japanese Studies and Political Science and is a doctoral candidate and research fellow in the department of Japanese Studies, Goethe-University Frankfurt. She is currently conducting research in Japan on a DIJ grant.
Commentator: Dr. Takeshi Matsui, Graduate School of Commerce and Management, Hitotsubashi University