This study examines a late-modernity model of society where consumption is the conduit through which individuals meet society. This model is contrasted with Wilkinson's (1991) model that sees the community as the place where individuals make contact with society. Using Brown et al.'s (1996) Outshopping Index, residents of two rural Mississippi Delta communities were asked how often they shopped for 30 consumable items outside of their communities both in 1996 and again in 2007. Logistic regression demonstrates a significant interaction effect between year and outshopping such that outshopping was significantly and positively associated with community sentiment in 1996 but not in 2007. Such a transformation in the locus associated with consumption habits and community can be explained as an effect of globalization on rural residents during the period under observation. The results may be indicative of larger shifts in society as described by Bauman (2007), who argues that late modernity is a shift from mass consumer society to a society of consumers. This shift changed the meaning of community, eroding its traditional function as a point of access to society. Hyper-individualized consumption now serves this role. Though acknowledging that community is not a phenomenon exclusive to rural communities, I contend that they serve as ideal natural laboratories for observing late-modern societal shifts.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Sociology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Community, Consumption, Consumer, Modernity, Late-Modernity, Postmodernity, Mississippi, Individualization, Bauman, Wilkinson

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Sociology Commons