The reading for this week’s topic of “Shopping and Public Life” brought up many points on class, identity, and in which environments things are produced. Growing up in more of a middle-class family I have always been one to appreciate a good sale or discount. While I am not too proud to admit it, I have been to discount department stores many times such as Wal-Mart, Kmart or target in order to buy things for my apartment or school. My mom jokes whenever we are done a shopping trip in Wal-Mart that she feels violated after going in the store. The incredibly low prices and staff who are very clearly under paid and given poor working conditions cause our conscience to feel guilty about making purchases and supporting the company. Although, as a middle class family trying to support their daughter in her education and dreams my parents are left very little choice in deciding to shop at Wal-Mart over choosing more expensive and well made products instead. Shopping, for my parents, means finding good prices in contrast to finding good products.
This idea is what had me thinking during the readings that there are all different kinds of shoppers. Zukin touched upon this subject in “Point of Purchase” by explaining that shopping is a way to educate yourself with products and how things are made. Some women are status shoppers while others are bargain shoppers. But the fact that price and “status or value” is always a category is what has me thinking if shopping can include all of the different categories of shopping. Can there be a bargain-status shopper? Why must status be determined by how much one spends on something. Can status be measured by how trendy one appears no matter how expensive their clothes are? At least after I graduate college and receive my own real pay check I will be able to buy myself my first piece of clothing over 100 dollars. But when I do, it will not change me any more or less as a person.
The word class which came up a lot in the readings reminds me of the Bravo tv show “Real Housewives of New York.” The women are often using the word class to describe each others behavior, not their shopping habits. One of the wives even calls class the “c” word and refuses to use it and does not like hearing it. This makes me believe that the word class is such a loaded topic that it cannot simply be used to define ones shopping habits or define someone in any way.