Yemeni consumer fashions & effects of change [Archives:2003/659/Business & Economy]

August 14 2003

By Dr Omer Ishaq
Sociology Department
Taiz University
For the Yemen Times

People's life depends on a group of major constituents. The most important of these are production and consumption of material and spiritual needs, the carrying out of various social life functions depend. The family for instance needs an economic income to allowing it meet its essential wants of residence, food and clothing in addition to securing its requirements of health services to help it face life crises and positive interaction with various situations.
Production has grown and has been developing under the necessity of meeting people's wants and their consumption, whether they were material or spiritual. Personal consumption is the use and consuming goods and food and other wants and they usually depend on people's awareness and always are governed by personal tastes and circumstances of individual life and level of individuals' culture.
The changes that affected the world, whether advanced or backward, have imposed the phenomenon of world popular consumption according to characteristics of each community and its social, economic and cultural circumstances. Those changes have created economic modes and consequently new consumer fashions and prepared the ground for conditions for trade and cultural exchange among advanced and backward countries, some equivalent and some non-equivalent.
The republic of Yemen is one of the infantile countries that try to enter this age under the influence of globalization and expansion of population growth and the growing tendency to gaining modern industrial products and its different branches despite that its economic growth is affected by economic, social and political disturbances. Some statistics and studies indicate that he Yemeni society is among the developing countries that are more tending towards consumption and the proportion of imported goods and commodities is very high and regularly increasing despite the domination of states of poverty in some governorates and families there. The new Yemeni person is prone to using and possessing the latest of what is produced by new industry and modern technology and he adapts himself to the new consumer goods and gets moved by commercial advertising.
The urban life of the society has led to the emergence of new modes of consumption that can be traced through the consumer phenomena of the society. The changes that happened in the life of man and culture and society have created new circumstances seen in the life of people and ways of living and that has been reflected on consumption and styles of consumption. The industrialization and its development have played a major role in the appearance of news commodities that were not known before. Industrialization has also created new conditions of work and resulted in woman's involvement in public life and production. It also resulted in more dependence on wages and salaries and moving to the town and all that has led to an alteration in the process of consumption and taste.
The mode of consumption is also related directly to the family, as it is the main unit of economic consumption. Under various circumstances the family is considered the unit through which the economic and political order of the society works. Thus consumer modes emerged compatible with the style of life, the nature of profession and kind of the family. There are rural modes of consumption and urban modes of consumption and other modes of consumption according to class differences and according to the family income and level of its economic life.
The social change and speedy civilized progress and the spread of globalization in addition to expansion of the volume of trade exchange, effected new modern and developed kinds of commodities and services that outmatched the quantity of incomes of some Yemeni families. Those families found themselves forced to squeeze some areas of spending in order to spare money enough to buy the new goods and face the new requirements of life and many families tended to abandon traditional habits of spending and consumption. This means that the Yemeni contemporary society is heading towards the consumer mode with all its aspects, influenced by the age of world popular consumer mode. Poverty survey conducted about the Yemeni family has revealed certain kinds and levels of poverty; acute poverty, food poverty, medium poverty and families below the line of poverty. His has resulted in that many Yemeni families began to face the problem of satisfying the necessary needs and the emergence of variant consumer modes. This has got reflected on the phenomenon of openness to the market and affected the process of marketing and some aspects of trade recession. To solve this problem some rich and donor countries and international organisations are trying to help the poor countries suffering from low economic growth to relatively overcome their crises and concentrating studies on the conditions of families. They allot some assistance and try to vitalize some investment and economic projects to provide suitable job opportunities and mitigate the severity of unemployment and consequently the intensity of poverty. This is especially important when taking into account the big army unemployment among the ranks of the youth and children begging on the streets.