Consumption—Stimuli—Family Control

From production units families turned to become consumption units. This claim needs to be unfolded, though. According to the first meaning of the concept of the family as a consumption unit by industrialization both household and workplace, and leisure time and work time got separated. That is, families do not produce any more, but only consume at their households. According to the second meaning, since the end of the 19th century, wage growth has made families’ breadwinning members capable of having leisure activities outside of the household entailing some costs as well. In this sense, family became a background of individual consumption. Between the two World Wars, and after the 1950s families as consumption units appeared in their third form. This happened due to the increase in the supply of consumer goods. Housing costs and possessing durable consumer goods (that is, the real family consumption) mean such a burden for families that decisions on the allocation of resources, that is, the ratio between leisure and work time have to be made together. Consumer preferences have to be reconciled. The home represents the cohabitants’ taste, norms, identities, and all from their inner world that is to be displayed to the outer world. Consumption plays a crucial role in the production of a family’s inner world. Forming a family as a consumption unit in its third sense has also changed possibilities of control over individuals to a large extent. A new type of control has emerged enforcing labour. Both women and men are burdened by the power of the conception of family as the consuming unit, which severely takes all energy and time that can be committed to moneymaking. Time use and activities of husbands and wives are determined obviously by consumption.

Released: Replika 70, 109–125.