Sin Tracker: shopping at superstores

In: Uncategorized

25 Aug 2006

Monitoring the alleged sins of modern life

An excellent piece by Sean Collins on Spiked on the “sin” of shopping at Wal-Mart. Evidently America’s Democratic Party, divided on many issues, is united on hatred of the giant superstore. Two union-backed campaigning groups are spearheading the campaigning against the shopping giant (branded as Asda in Britain).

Collins warns that:

“the anti-Wal-Mart crusade is a faux populism – as fake as the knock-offs Wal-Mart sells. It shares with other campaigns against politically incorrect retailers – such as McDonald’s and Starbucks – a disdain for mass marketers and, most importantly, the masses who shop with them. But what’s different, and potentially confusing, about the anti-Wal-Mart movement is that it is snobbery masquerading as a populist campaign for higher pay levels.”

Collins goes on to examine the broader significance attached to shopping nowadays: you are what you buy. He also explains how the middle class has a convenient get-out clause:

”Wal-Mart finds itself at the sharp end of a wider attack on mass consumption patterns. Personal shopping decisions have now become invested with greater significance, as they are now considered as indicative of one’s identity (as opposed to, say, political or religious views). Items associated with the masses are considered taboo today: SUVs, McMansions, fast food. Such criticisms are the means by which to blame those who mindlessly buy offensive things. At the same time, the elite are able to buy their way out of this, through alternative, eco-friendly, ethical spending.”