Definitions of consumerism have ranged from the essentially pragmatic to the speculatively theoretical, from the simple “let the seller beware”, to the all embracing “concern for the total impact of business on society”. Regardless of the definitions, consumerism in Britain today is about consumer protection and how this can best be achieved. Whether this is merely a stage in the evolutionary development into something more comprehensive in its concerns and more radical in its approach remains to be seen. The main stream of the British consumer movement is middle class in origin and outlook. The social composition of the movement has been an important factor conditioning both its definition of consumer problems and its approach to their solution. Essentially the movement is concerned with ensuring that shoppers get a fair deal in the market place. The role of the consumer in the market place and the relationship between consumer and producer is never fundamentally questioned. The existing societal order and its concomitant economic relationships are simply accepted as part of the framework within which the consumer movement must work to achieve its objectives.
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