The Context of Desire: Political Economy of Consumption

Trends of consumption in Japan largely depend on consumer behavior in particular and socio-economic factors in general. Economic and political factors influence consumer behavior because they facilitate various social processes, including supply rates, savings, and foreign good import.

All these aspects are also tangible in much larger context that in its turn affects the overall political and economic situation. Interaction between political and economic domains can be regarded as a trigger of social change in industrialized society. What is more important is that both spheres are primarily established in a cultural context.

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In relation to Japan, much controversy arises concerning the influence of culture on macro-social shifts because there is a strong assumption about impossibility of direct interaction between culture and politics. At the same time, Japan cannot be considered separately from culture because the country is involved in cultural issues in every aspect of social life. Such an argument is enhanced by the richness of Japanese traditions and their influence on behavioral patterns in society.

In The Context of Desire, Clammer explores new definitions of culture in the context of political economy of consumption to justify the evident connection between culture and politics. In particular, the research argues that culture and economics are integral parts of the whole, complementing each other.

At the international level, Japan is assumed to have weak political influence on other economies. At the same time, it plays an aggressive role in financial and industrial matters.

In total, the country can be regarded as an economic superpower with a bored population, but with a rich nation. Such a situation fosters the discussion about the existence of alternative political structures taking control of politics in the country. Focus on politics, therefore, is replaced by economic goals and, as a result, Japan belongs to highly conservative economies.

The origins of institutions controlling economic and political situations can serve as an explanation for apolitical views in the country. These institutions are primarily linked to bureaucracy interests in manufacture and commerce. Their strategies differ significantly from interests presented in other industrialized nations.

The omnipotent influence of bureaucracy on economic patterns is predetermined by strong ethical frameworks established in these institutions, which influences significantly the quality standards. Focus on security, labor-relation style, and organizational culture constitutes the solid foundation for assigning unique vision of Japanese power.

Decline of political trends in Japan is historically predetermined. The point is that Japan has never been considered as a democratic economy.

The country’s economic and social vision on development differs significantly from Western patterns of development. Because most of traditions in Japan are deeply rooted in ancient times, there is also an assumption that hyper-consumption patterns are not predetermined by post-modern trends.

The tendency focuses on the slowly changing patterns of political development, as well as on ideological failure of socialists. More importantly, late introduction of political reforms is another factor contributing to the development of unique apolitical patterns of consumption in Japan.

In order to prove the connection between economics and culture, specific emphasis should be placed on social structure, particularly on private and public principles assigned to lifestyle. Establishment of symbolic patterns in consumption enhanced focus on cultural practices involved into economics. Therefore, consumption practices are redefined by symbolic boundaries through assertion of Japanese identity. In fact, ideology of consumption has deeply impregnated into economic strategies.

The social shifts influencing economic system were especially tangible with the introduction of female consumers promoting the idea of selling lifestyles. In other words, women as consumers at a local level have a potent impact on economic and political modes of development. Shifts in political and economic views and their direct relation to culture is explained by the shifts occurred to society.

In particular, Japanese are currently focused on building the identity through roles and responsibilities they take in employed environment rather than building the nation. Individualized approach to consumption, therefore, is the primary factor that contributes to the interaction between culture and economics.

The potential influence on apolitical situation in Japan is largely explained by replacement of political structure with alternative communicational channels. These new structures substituted the fixed systems of influence, such as old industrial capitalism.

Therefore, the current regulation system is predetermined by the needs expressed in such spheres as shopping organization, transportation media, and other apolitical institutions in Japan. All these social spheres of influence directly relate to the forms of popular culture that are gradually transformed in alternative ways of political governance.

In general, the above-presented discussion focuses on the definition of consumer society that plays the leading role in defining political and economic trends of development. Japan, a developed economy with rich history and traditions, deviates significantly from the stereotypical image about powerful industrialized nation.

In fact, its major focus is placed on the development of consumption patterns that would guide the production processes in the country. In addition, such concept as aesthetics of design is governed by new modes of consumption in Japan.

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