Consumer Studies

What is Consumer Studies?

Consumer Studies focuses on developing the skills, knowledge, values and attitudes to enable learners to become responsible and informed consumers of food, clothing, housing, furnishings and household equipment.  This implies optimal and sustainable use of human and material resources to improve human well-being.  Well-being refers to the physical, material, social, psychological, aesthetic and cultural welfare of individuals, families, households, groups communities and societies.  A consumer, as an individual or part of a family or group, does not function in isolation but continually interacts within the environment.

What is the purpose of Consumer Studies?

Consumer Studies educates learners to become wise consumers by developing skills, knowledge, values and attitudes to:

  • Improve their own and their community’s quality of life;
  • Use science and technology effectively and critically while showing responsibility towards the environment and the health of others;
  • Collect, analyse and critically evaluate information to acquire the skills to be effective consumers;
  • Use different sources of product information to make consumer decisions using critical and creative thinking;
  • Communicate effectively using visual, symbolic and/or language skills in various modes;
  • Recognise environmental concerns and the effect of these on consumers and producers (e.g. decreasing supply of natural resources and the excess of waste);
  • Understand the impact of unfair and irresponsible consumption and production on the natural and economic environment;
  • Appreciate the mutual benefits of working with others as members of a team or group in investigating issues, solving problems and producing products;
  • Developing cultural and aesthetic sensitivity about food, clothing and housing patterns across a range of social contexts;
  • Encourage positive attitudes towards work and empower individuals to become self-reliant by applying the knowledge of food, clothing, housing and furnishings, and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills; and
  • Lay the foundation for higher education and training and explore career opportunities in food, clothing, housing and interior design industries.

The Four Learning Outcomes in Consumer Studies are:

LO 1 Management of the Consumer Role: The learner is able to demonstrate knowledge of responsible consumer practices and to effectively address consumer issues.

LO 2 Knowledgeable Consumer Choices:
 The learner is able to make knowledgeable consumer choices about food, clothing, housing and furnishings within a given socio-economic and cultural context.

LO 3 Responsible use of Resources: The learner is able to demonstrate consumer responsibility towards the sustainability of the environment, the community and self through the judicious use of resources.

LO 4 Production and Marketing: The learner is able to apply knowledge and demonstrate the skills necessary to produce quality consumer products and to apply entrepreneurial knowledge and skills to market these products.

Although theoretical components cover all aspects of producing food, clothing and furnishing products in LO 4, schools and learners have a choice of food or clothing or furnishing production for practical application.

Profile of a Consumer Studies Learner
Learners entering Grade 10 will not have any prior knowledge of Consumer Studies and will be introduced to the subject for the first time in Grade 10.  Although Consumer Studies does not link directly to any of the General Education and Training Bank learning areas, it relies on the base knowledge acquired in Mathematics, Languages, Economic and Management Sciences, Life Orientation, Technology and Natural Sciences learning areas.

Base knowledge acquired in the General Education and Training Band by learners to enter Consumer Studies in the Further Education and Training Band may include:

  • Recognition of the impact that technological developments have on the quality of people’s lives (Technology);
  • Skills in calculating, planning and organising (Mathematics, Economic and Management Sciences);
  • Conducting investigations and drawing up reports (Languages and Natural Sciences); and
  • Application of decision making strategies and problem solving skills (Life Orientation).

Learners come from various racial, linguistic, economic and cultural backgrounds, each with their own individual experiences, interests, strengths and barriers.  The subject recognises the perspectives of learners coming from diverse backgrounds.