Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman points out, to be a successful consumer now defines what it is to be “normal”.
Therefore to be “abnormal” is to be a failed consumer. The lot of the failed consumer is miserable.
This new poor may be better off in absolute terms than the poor of previous generations, but in the world of the turbo-consumer what you have means nothing – it’s what others have and therefore what we must have next that counts. On these terms the new poor are falling far behind in an age when keeping up is everything.
The failed consumer suffers not just from exclusion from normal society but isolation. The poor of the past had each other in a community of poverty. Misery could be shared and countered through class solidarity and the hope of a different life. The new poor lick their wounds alone.
The final ignominy of today’s poor is that they don’t want to overthrow the rich to create a new order, they just want to be like them. So they are denied even the satisfaction of anyone to hate – just B-list celebrities to envy and copy.
So if you want the causes of crime then look no further than the impulse of the poor to belong and be normal. So strong is this urge that the failed consumer will lie, cheat and steal to “earn” the trappings of success.