written on January 10th, 2012.
The glaring disparity between the activities of the economic classes represented in the Accra mall can be hardly ignored, especially on a very busy evening. The Accra mall, currently the largest shopping mall in Ghana, attracts all sorts of patrons; mostly foreign nationals residing the country and Ghanaians from all walks of life. Apparently, considering the average prices of products in the shops, the expected market for the mall is mostly the cream of the Ghanaian society and the foreign nationals; visiting and residing in the country for that matter. However, even less subtle to the average viewer is the existence of key features which hint on the embracement of values of the bourgeoisie, by the proletariat in a bid to reach an equal economic status as the bourgeoisie hence the existence of conflicts between the two economic classes. The purpose of this academic paper is to discuss the life as it is at the Accra shopping mall from the Marxist point of view.
A classic scene in the Accra mall is one with which the car park is two-thirds or more full and has a considerable amount of cars filing in and out of the entrances in slow fashion due to the traffic jam. The two glass doors to the shops to the mall are literally choked with a crowd of young people in their best of clothes of age range roughly between eleven and twenty-five. These youth are most likely busily tapping on their phones or IPods and chatting in loud voices. An interview with few of them reviewed that this act was regarded as hanging out with friends whereas hanging out with friends for the remaining patrons of the mall means watching movies at the cinema and eating at the food court amidst chatting. In the shopping mall on the other hand the food courts are occupied with people eating and others in the cinemas and yet still others are dragging trolleys full of products from the shops. Inferred from this scene is the fact that the bourgeoisie lifestyle is seen as the idea way of living by all characters in the mall. The lack of recreational centres in Accra is a contributing factor to the presence of most of the youth in the Accra mall.
There is a kind of pressure to keep up appearances in the shopping mall. The higher economic class in the shopping mall, who normally are economically sound, tend to display their affluence in their apparel and their spending nature. In order to fit into the crowd, the standees outside and along the corridors of the mall are compelled to put on their best of clothing. The mall therefore conveys the image of a place which is bourgeoisie-dominant. The proletariat characters, the numerous standees, reinforce the lifestyle of the bourgeoisie by imitating or attempting to behave like they were in a similar social standing. Multiple window shopping and hanging around the mall are habits which can be ascribed to the proletariat characters in the mall.
The standees of the Accra mall are generally ignored and devalued. The prices of goods sold in the mall, state the kind of market that the shop owners of the mall are targeting. Due to price discrimination of goods and food sold in the shops within the mall, goods of the same kind that can be patronised by the average Ghanaian in other markets at more affordable prices, are far more expensive in the mall. This suggests that the values of the lower class are grossly ignored. The mall was not designed for the proletariat market. Despite the market for which the mall was made, the presence of the lower class in the mall reinforces the fact that thought their conviction for economic equality holds they still wish to attain the economic status of the bourgeoisie.
Another group of characters in the mall who fall under the lower economic class is the workers in the mall. They work tirelessly to earn for themselves their daily bread whereas within the same context, the upper classes who attend the mall do so luxuriously and for mere entertainment. This is portrayed even more vividly during weekends. The workers in the mall try to make ends meet by working even on weekends; days which those of the upper class use for entertainment and luxury. The proletariat hardly has an option other than to choose to invest their free time into productive activities rather than afford luxuries.
The government plays a very laissez-faire role in this situation. The capitalist nature of the government concurs with the policies that business enterprises like the Accra mall establish. The furthest the government goes in curbing such discrepancies between the economic classes is the institution of income leverages such as the Single Spine Salary Scheme, instituted for civil service workers. It justifies why policemen and women began frequenting the mall and leaving with trolley loads of products after the increment of their salaries; they had risen to the status of middle class. The government also, intervenes by appealing to the capitalist tendencies of individuals of the bourgeoisie to allow the less economically fortunate to benefit from facilities such as the Accra Mall.