The to practice unabashedly the conditions toward micro emancipatory

The post-industrialisation period from 16th and 17th century
onwards added new dimension to the definition and relationship of product and
consumer. More and more innovations in marketing strategies of the
industry to attract consumers sometimes created an impression of duality of
commodity in the form of product and consumers, in the wake of industries
endeavour to consume the consumer himself by treating him as a commodity.
The status and interest of consumers drew more attention of
modern thinkers to study the consumer-product relationship. Modernism
views the consumer and consumption solely in terms of the market logic
whereas Post-modernity feels that modernity viewed this relationship from
the narrow angles of age, gender, transnationalism, male, female,
industrialisation, subject, object etc. The attempt is to resolve the
conflicts ongoing for last decade or so, in the guise of ‘modernism’ as
viewed by Lash (1991), Ross (1988) and ‘post-modernism’ theory of Borgmann
(1992) Vattimo (1992) in the area of consumer research, by explaining
short-comings of modernism and by suggesting alternatives to it. The subject
has been dealt with philosophical, epistemological, epochal and market
logic angles to find out solution to the controversy especially with the
emergence of mass consumption leading to consumer culture, consumer practices
and consumer society. Campbell (1987) felt that industry and consumer needs are
complimentary/supplementary to each other and none of them can survive in
isolation. Vattimo (1988) feels that post-modernism is re-emergence
of human values relating to consumer and consumption and take it artfully,
playfully, free from dead ends of modernism. While Jencks (1987) opines
that post-modernism does not ignore all aspects of modernism but takes it
further to liberate from its narrower approach and is in fact an extension of
modernism. Douglas and Isherwood (1979), Bourdieu (1984) opine that each
and every activity of human being reflects upon his cultural roots and are
closely linked with economics. Firat and Venkatesh (1995)
call postmodernism as “Liberatory Postmodernism which is a call to
practice unabashedly the conditions toward micro emancipatory ends-as
opposed to grand emancipatory projects” and their philosophy is more akin
to Vattimo’s (1988) view point while not disagreeing with Jencks (1987).
Post-modernism is more concerned with culture, language, aesthetics,
narratives, symbolic modes, and literary expressions and meanings and is
progressive in nature being concerned with evolving and changing nature of the
society and culture. It is also felt that liberatory postmodernism in
its true perspectives is not achievable unless the studies break away from
the commercial aspects of the discourses relating to consumption and consumer and
study it in its purest having rational, experiential centric and cultural
approach with a goal to improve human life as against pure economy. While
discussing and handling various criticisms of modernist approach,
postmodernism undertakes liberation of consumption from product. Appadurai
(1990) feels that spectacularisation of consumer culture knows no
boundaries and is cosmopolitan in nature. It shows dominance of
consumption over production. Firat and Venkatesh (1995) feel that marketing is
an activity that fragments consumption signs and environments and
re-configures them in style and fashion. Post-modernism does not treat
human subject as cognitive but takes it as historically and
culturally constructed language. It argues that consumer should be studied
as a producer as well as consumer both as he stimulates production.
Modernism is basically production centric but
post-modernism is consumption centric. The post-modern consumer
establishes and restructure his/her identities ignoring strong market forces
and is never committed to any particular image or lifestyle. The
interpretivist researches have proved that a good number of consumption
activities like swap meets, family re-unions etc. social situations take
place which are not connected with market. But at the same time the
production and consumption are so inter-linked that it is not advisable to study
them separately but efforts be made to have inclusive researches on both
aspects.