Critically assess the relationship between the growth of consumer culture and urban development in one city of your choice

Consumer culture is related to the process of consumerism, which is defined as ‘a term used to describe the effects of equating personal happiness with purchasing material possessions and consumption’ (Wikipedia, 2005). Consumption is defined as ‘The purchase and utilization of goods and services’ (Knox and Pinch, 1982) and the three main geographical themes surrounding the geography of consumption are: spatialities, socialities and subjectives (Miles and Miles).

Within this broad depth of classifying consumption it is possible to identify that consumption is not just related to the manufactured goods that are sold , but also to services, knowledge and ideas and it is now commonly accepted that places, shopping, eating, fashion, leisure and recreation are all things that can be ‘consumed’ (Jayne, 2005). The key issue in the relationship beween consumption and urban change is that the production and consumption realtionship that once existed has now been reversed, and subsequently provides the centre of a modern urban lifestyle.

Urban development is defines as ‘the physical, social and economic development of metropolitan regions, municipalities and neighbourhoods’ (Wikipedia, 2005). The physical change of a city is mainly concerned with the spatial geography of consumption, however it is important to consider the effect that socialities and subjectives have on development, especially socially and economically. Through using the city of Manchester I shall assess the relationship between consumption and urban development through the following development periods of a city: Industrial, Fordist, Post-Fordist, Post-Industrial, Modernism and Post-Modernism.

The industrial city emerged during the industrial revolution which was said to be ‘The era in which machine power replaced human and animal power in the production process, generally said to have first begun on a large scale in England during the 1600s’ (Wikipedia, 2005). It was a result of manufacturing and production focused capitalism and the government were in control of the cities development. Manchester became the world’s first industrial city and the model for industrial development throughout the western world.

The local authorities of Manchester were responsible for the maintenance of collective consumption infrastructure to meet the needs of the growing population as a result of the industrialisation of Manchester. According to Pacione Manchester’s population grew by 351% from 75, 000 (1801) to 338, 000 (1851) and the reasons for this he identifies as a need for a large pool of labour. Jayne identifies that for a city to be economically and functionally successful that housing, gas, electricity, water, sewage, education and transport had to be organised around the economic needs of the industry and the domestic needs of workers.

Pacione suggests that ‘the burgeoning populations of the nineteenth-century industrial cities placed an enormous strain on the urban services and infrastructure’ (2001). The role of the local authorities in development was therefore largely influenced by industrialists, the reasons for this were that they had to plan and develop the city around the public provisions, as well as providing access to services and utilities.

Such services and utilities were therefore consumed by the growing population of the industrial city and were vital to ensure the smooth running of industrialised capitalism. (Jayne). In Manchester the increased manufacturing production, and the wealth which that generated, though firmly in the hands of a few leading industrialists, did impact upon the city’s standard of living. Schools, hospitals, libraries, swimming baths, and public washhouses – all these could now be afforded as a municipal duty, and paid for out of rates.

It was a combination of industrialisation and population growth that provided the basis for the formation of a relationship between urban development and consumption; as the city developed physically to support the population growth, the city also developed socially and economically through the consumption of services. Collective consumption was described by Suanders (1981) as a definate characteristic of a city under advanced capitalism. The fordist city: this was the next stage in the development of cities and was based around the idea of Fordism.

Knox and Pinch define fordism as ‘a system of industrial organisation established by Henry Ford at the beginning of the twentieth century for the mass production of automobiles. ‘ He was also responsible for the development of the assembly line method early in the 20th century. The result of this was that workers did relatively simple tasks and were aided by specialised machines. This approach enhances production so much so that manufacturers are able to cut the cost of products and produced standardised products available for mass consumption.

An Example of this is Henry Ford’s Car. This system alongside the widespread availablilty of credit led to a revolution in production (Knox and Pinch, 1982). ‘After the second world war, however, there emerged a system which, for a quarter of a century , seemed to create a relatively harmonious relationship between production and consumption’ (Knox and Pinch, 1982) Mass production existed with the devlopment of the very earliest industrial cities but Fordism helped to consolidate the classic landscape of ‘smokestack’ cities.

This time period was underpined by the government policy which was known as keynesianism, this was based on the work John Maynard Keynes. He was an economist that argued that the government should spend the times in the recession to create more demands for private goods and services and hence increase consumption. The urban development associated with the fordist movement was that of building large-scale plants and also an increase in infrastructure.

As a result of urban planning and improving infrastructure, more roads were built and due to the affordabiltiy of the car by the middle and upper class people in society, suburbanisation began. Surbanisation is a term used by many to describe the current social urban dynamic operating within many parts of the developed world and is related to the phenomenon of urban sprawl (Wikipedia, 2005) and is suggested by Harvey that this was responsible for the beginning of commodity fetisishm; ‘the obsession of people with the acquisition of consumer goods’ (knox and pinch, 1982).

Suburbanisation increased consumption in a number of ways; more automoblies were needed to commute large distances into the city, domestic consumer products such as televisions and washing machines were needed for the new suburban dwellings and also individual consumption increased as a result of households competing with each other due to commodity fetisishm. However, consumerism also influenced urban development, there was a demand to live in the suburbs and so developers needed to create houses and the relevant infrastucture to meet this demand.

Therefore, the consumption that arised through consumer culture due to comodity fetisishm influenced urban development and vice versa. A Manchester example of this was the emergance of Trafford Park. Ernest Hooley purchased it in August 1896 for the sum of i?? 360,000. Hooley immediately created the Trafford Park Estates Company and set about developing it as an “industrial estate” – then a radically new concept. This was an out of town industrial estate and was successful due to the close proximity to the Manchester Ship Canal and the Manchester Port.

The land was originally parkland with deer, with Trafford Hall as its centre; it was destroyed by fire in 1940. Manchester Council gave Hooley permission to develop the land and this encouraged decentralisation to occur further in the city of Manchester. Well-established companies such as Kellogg’s used Trafford Park as their European headquarters and are still manufacturing there now and ICI built its first purpose-built factory for the mass production of penicillin. By the outbreak of the Second World War, Trafford Park had so grown as to acquire the status of a borough in its own right.

At its peak (around 1945), the Park employed over 75,000 workers. (Pacione) The fordist system however was not always idealistic, as in the case of Henry Ford’s production plants. In the case of Manchester the industry was mainly cotton, which didn’t pay great wages and as a result women, ethnic minorities and other marginalised groups were economically excluded. The fordist sytem ran into trouble, this was most probably related to a declining productivity and there were a number of factors that contributed to this.

It is difficult to determine which factor had the biggest influence, however there are some which are related to consumption behaviours, as identified by Knox (1982): * Market saturation of mass-produced goods * Increasing consumer hostilty to uniform, poor-quality goods * System rigidity in the face of increasing consumer and market volatility stemming from the high capital costs of establishing complex production lines under the influence of Fordism

There has been responses to the problems created in the fordist city, tese mostly included changes to the working practices, the organisation of the industry and the structure of the society as a whole. From these changes emerged the post-fordist city. ‘The post-fordist city is characterised by a production landscape that has experienced the decline of old manufacturing and ‘smokestack’ industries and the rise of new computer based technology and flexible decentralised labour processes and work’ (Jayne,2005).

In Manchster, the out of town industrial estate Trafford Park has continued to grow throughout the years, and had offset many of the worst effects of depression on employment in Manchester. Many new service industries had moved in as well as light engineering and cleaner hi-tech industries. Manchester, especially Trafford Park Industrial Estate became dominated by the needs of multinational corporations and global processes of capital production and many foreign businesses were attracted to Trafford. By 1933 over 300 American firms had bases in Trafford Park.

With widespread laying-off of textile workers in the two decades after the Great War of 1914-18, Manchester came to depend more than ever on its distribution infrastructure to meet consumer demand and as a base of the economy. Consumption in the era of the Post-Fordist city was related to a fragmented niche market and there was the promotion of consumption cultures that promoted the concept of individual taste and distinctions occurred due to the lifestyle that consumers chose, however these mainly excluded the working class.

Extensive suburban development continued to occur and throughout many cities across the world there was great diversity amongst the industries that emerged and it therefore conservative political regimes were those responsible for shaping the cities development. (Pacione) Deindustrialization is the process by which a country or region moves from a manufacturing-based economy to a service economy, and is marked by an increase in structural unemployment. An examples of deindustrialization include: Northern England particularly the city of Manchester in the 1980s.

Previously Manchester was the global center of textile manufacturing but was subject to a long period of decline culminating in the 1980s, as the industry shifted to countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia and China. In this time the Post-Industrial City emerged and this is a city dominated by services. Trafford Park was hard hit by the decline of the Manchester Ship Canal and the closure of the Port of Manchester in the 1960s and 1970s reflected the depression in the Park’s fortunes.

Trafford Park, as a result began to see a steady trickle of industry away from it, so that in February 1987 the Trafford Development Corporation was hastily brought into existence in an attempt to stem the outflow and to attract new business to the region. Trafford Park, Manchester – the world’s first industrial estate – was transformed thanks to the work of Trafford Park Development Corporation. During eleven years of successful regeneration, TPDC attracted 1,000 companies, 28,299 new jobs and i?? . 759 billion of private sector investment. There has been a complete turnaround, as the M62 and M60 motorways now fulfil a similar function to those provided in the fordist and post-fordist era’s; the Park has once again found itself connected to the rest of the world. Today there is a distinct sense of revival to Trafford Park and the key aspects of the development process have been passed on to development corporations across the city.

Not only was the Trafford Park Development Corporation successful in attracting manufacturing and high-tech industries but it also achieved in attracting leisure and retail industries. The prestigious new award winning Lowry Centre has been built on the site of the old derelict docks; the Imperial War Museum North now stands defiantly facing the Lowry; the Trafford Centre retail and leisure park built at Dumplington – all signs of regeneration and new life back to the former deer park at Trafford. All these places provide spaces, facilities and goods for people to consume. (Cloke et al, 1999)