Dissertation (Education Studies)
December 15, 2017
Consider the claim that ‘About 8% of American college students consider suicide each year.’ Describe, step by step, how a team of social scientists would go about justifying this claim, and flag up any reasons to be cautious about it
December 15, 2017

Research Essay Question
Below is a passage from Consumer Society: Critical Issues and Environmental
Consequences (Barry Smart (2010), pp.140-41):
All manner of explanations have been advanced to account for people’s
seemingly inexhaustible propensity to consume, capacity to spend, spend, and
spend again, to work longer hours to earn more, to use credit and run up debt,
and willingness to withdraw equity from their homes in order to participate in
‘consumer society’, to fund the purchase of more and more consumer goods
and additional services. If pleasure and enjoyment, both anticipated and
experienced, are part of the story it is worth remembering that some of the
goods selected for purchase are never used and a significant proportion end
up being thrown away, including substantial quantities of edible foods, with
one estimate from a UK report suggesting avoidable food waste over the
course of a year amounted to 4.1 million tons. The pleasurable experience
that is anticipated to be a corollary of participation in consumerism, the status
associated with being seen to own a particular commodity or being able to
enjoy a specific service, and the satisfaction that may be derived from
appearing to emulate others in one’s circle of friends and acquaintances –
‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ or, increasingly, aspiring to appear like more
distant iconic celebrity figures from the worlds of sport and entertainment,
whose consumer lifestyles attract so much attention and publicity in the
media – undoubtedly have contributed to people’s seemingly inexhaustible
propensity to engage in consumer activity, but such experiences, associations,
and aspirations themselves have been formed through processes of
transformation that have provided the ‘life-blood of the consumer society’.
Do you think whether contemporary trademark protection has played any role in
inducing the kind of consumerism that the above passage describes?


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