The Blog

A Generation Victimised by Consumerism

When examining the conduct of the looters over the last three days, the common attitude towards the actions are that it was 'mindless.' Not only were expensive electronics and clothes stores targeted, but specifically products that tend to target young people were stolen from around the country.

If it isn't the new generation iPad, or the latest Plasma television; British youths have been inundated with 'must-have' products, which has shrewdly entered into our homes on a daily basis. However, the "wouldn't be seen without" advertising niche saw a widespread backlash over the last few days as hundreds of youths took to the streets and proceeded to loot various businesses around the UK. From sports to electronic stores, all that has been left of the public and private enterprises are the hollow wreckages of what once were priceless sentimental attachments as well as goods worth thousands of pounds. Yet, the plain and simple truth of it is that did we breed this type of addictive 'wanting' behaviour?

When examining the conduct of the looters over the last three days, the common attitude towards the actions are that it was 'mindless.' Not only were expensive electronics and clothes stores targeted, but specifically products that tend to target young people were stolen from around the country. The main casualties were JD Sports, Miss Selfridges, Boots as well as Comets, which were all raised to the ground. Residents around Tottenham even witnessed rioters selling laptops that they had just moments before looted from a PC World, for a mere £20. But was this just a statement to show that consumer goods should be available for one and all?

The volume of expenditure on clothing and footwear increased five times between 1971 and 2006 according to the Office for National Statistics. In 2007, 41% of online spending by those aged 16 to 24 was on clothes and sports goods. Whilst within the recreation and culture category, the volume of expenditure increased more than nine times than in 1971, on information computers, photographic equipment, audio-visual and recording equipment, and games, toys and hobbies that include electronic and video games. Hence the online community has replaced the society around them, signifying the lack of apathy for businesses during the London riots.

Within 12 hours of the incidents, hundreds of IPhone 4s emerged on eBay and London Craigslist, suggesting that many of items stolen were only for selling purposes. And though raids had taken place in several banks and a Turkish jeweller's store, by and large it did not seem to follow the general pattern of targeting materialistic goods.

However, the alarming detail that basic commodities were also pursued such as baby products, medicine to bags of rice, insinuates the levels of poverty that is prevalent within the major cities. According to "Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists," a recent book written by Danny Dorling a professor of human geography at Sheffield University, London is most unequal city in the developed world. The richest tenth of the population amasses 273 times the wealth owned by the bottom tenth which creates a "means chasm" not seen since the days of a "slave owning society."

Consequently, the riots symbolise the imbalance of wealth and opportunities created by the deepening of economic crisis that the government has issued, despite the various declarations by Prime Minister David Cameron that this was nothing but "criminality, pure and simple." But accountability needs to be taken for grooming our society into being consumers, and the evidence is overwhelming that those without are left feeling inadequate.