Consumerism

Consumerism

Overview
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Torsten Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, and a leader of the so-called institutional economics movement...

. Veblen's subject of examination, the newly emergent middle class arising at the turn of the twentieth century, comes to full fruition by the end of the twentieth century through the process of globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

.

The term "consumerism" is also used to refer to the consumerist movement, consumer protection
Consumer protection
Consumer protection laws designed to ensure fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and may provide additional...

 or consumer activism
Consumer activism
Consumer activism is activism undertaken on behalf of consumers, to assert consumer rights.-Objectives and tactics:Goals include making goods and services available to consumers safer, better quality, environmentally friendly, and more readily available....

, which seeks to protect and inform consumers by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, and improved safety standards.
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Quotations

"Mammon, n.: The god of the world's leading religion." - Ambrose Bierce

"He who knows he has enough is rich" - Tao Te Ching Chapter 33

"Excess and deficiency are equally are at fault." - Confucius, XI 15

"Eat and drink, but waste not by excess; verily He loves not the excessive." - Islam Qu'ran 7.31

"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy." Isaiah 55:2 Category:Commerce

Encyclopedia
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Torsten Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, and a leader of the so-called institutional economics movement...

. Veblen's subject of examination, the newly emergent middle class arising at the turn of the twentieth century, comes to full fruition by the end of the twentieth century through the process of globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

.

The term "consumerism" is also used to refer to the consumerist movement, consumer protection
Consumer protection
Consumer protection laws designed to ensure fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and may provide additional...

 or consumer activism
Consumer activism
Consumer activism is activism undertaken on behalf of consumers, to assert consumer rights.-Objectives and tactics:Goals include making goods and services available to consumers safer, better quality, environmentally friendly, and more readily available....

, which seeks to protect and inform consumers by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, and improved safety standards. In this sense it is a movement or a set of policies aimed at regulating the products, services, methods, and standards of manufacturers, sellers, and advertisers in the interests of the buyer.

In economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, consumerism refers to economic policies placing emphasis on consumption. In an abstract sense, it is the belief that the free choice of consumers should dictate the economic structure of a society (cf. Producerism
Producerism
Producerism, sometimes referred to as "producer radicalism," is a right-wing populist ideology which holds that the productive members of society are being exploited by parasitic elements at both the top and bottom of the social and economic structure....

, especially in the British sense of the term).

The term "consumerism" was first used in 1915 to refer to "advocacy of the rights and interests of consumers" (Oxford English Dictionary) but in this article the term "consumerism" refers to the sense first used in 1960, "emphasis on or preoccupation with the acquisition of consumer goods" (Oxford English Dictionary).

Origins


Consumerism has weak links with the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, but is in fact an international phenomenon. People purchasing goods
Goods
Goods may refer to;*Good , physical product*Personal property, legal personal chattels...

 and consuming materials in excess of their basic needs is as old as the first civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

s (e.g. Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 and Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

).

A great turn in consumerism arrived just before the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

. In the nineteenth century, capitalist development and the industrial revolution were primarily focused on the capital goods sector and industrial infrastructure (i.e., mining, steel, oil, transportation networks, communications networks, industrial cities, financial centers, etc.).

At that time, agricultural commodities, essential consumer goods, and commercial activities had developed to an extent, but not to the same extent as other sectors. Members of the working classes worked long hours for low wages – as much as 16 hours per day, 6 days per week. Little time or money was left for consumer activities.

Further, capital goods and infrastructure were quite durable and took a long time to be used up. Henry Ford
Henry Ford
Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry...

 and other leaders of industry understood that mass production presupposed mass consumption. After observing the assembly lines in the meat packing industry, Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor was an American mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. He is regarded as the father of scientific management and was one of the first management consultants...

 brought his theory of scientific management
Scientific management
Scientific management, also called Taylorism, was a theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows. Its main objective was improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity. It was one of the earliest attempts to apply science to the engineering of processes and to management...

 to the organization of the assembly line in other industries; this unleashed incredible productivity and reduced the costs of all commodities produced on assembly lines.

While previously the norm had been the scarcity of resources, the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 created an unusual economic situation. For the first time in history products were available in outstanding quantities, at outstandingly low prices, being thus available to virtually everyone. So began the era of mass consumption, the only era where the concept of consumerism is applicable.

Consumerism has long had intentional underpinnings, rather than just developing out of capitalism. As an example, Earnest Elmo Calkins
Earnest Elmo Calkins
Earnest Elmo Calkins was an American advertising executive who co-founded the Calkins and Holden advertising agency. He pioneered the use of art in advertising, of fictional characters, the soft sell, and the idea of "consumer engineering"...

 noted to fellow advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 executives in 1932 that "consumer engineering must see to it that we use up the kind of goods we now merely use", while the domestic theorist Christine Frederick
Christine Frederick
Christine Isobel McGaffey Frederick was an American home economist and early 20th century exponent of Taylorism as applied to the domestic sphere. She conducted experiments aimed at improving household efficiency, as well as arguing for women's vital role as consumers in a mass-production economy...

 observed in 1929 that "the way to break the vicious deadlock of a low standard of living is to spend freely, and even waste creatively".

The older term and concept of "conspicuous consumption" originated at the turn of the 20th century in the writings of sociologist and economist, Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Torsten Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, and a leader of the so-called institutional economics movement...

. The term describes an apparently irrational and confounding form of economic behaviour. Veblen's scathing proposal that this unnecessary consumption is a form of status display is made in darkly humorous observations like the following:
The term "conspicuous consumption
Conspicuous consumption
Conspicuous consumption is spending on goods and services acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. In the mind of a conspicuous consumer, such display serves as a means of attaining or maintaining social status....

" spread to describe consumerism in the United States in the 1960s, but was soon linked to debates about media theory
Media influence
Media influence or media effects are used in media studies, psychology, communication theory and sociology to refer to the theories about the ways in which mass media affect how their audiences think and behave....

, culture jamming
Culture jamming
Culture jamming, coined in 1984, denotes a tactic used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising. Guerrilla semiotics and night discourse are sometimes used synonymously with the term culture jamming.Culture...

, and its corollary productivism
Productivism
Productivism is the belief that measurable economic productivity and growth is the purpose of human organization , and that "more production is necessarily good".-Arguments for productivism:...

.

In the 21st century


Beginning in the 1990s, the most frequent reason given for attending college had changed to making a lot of money, outranking reasons such as becoming an authority in a field or helping others in difficulty. This correlates with the rise of materialism
Economic materialism
Materialism is a mindset that views the consumption and acquisition of material goods as positive and desirable. It is often bound up with a value system which regards social status as being intrinsically linked to affluence as well as the perception that happiness can be increased through...

, specifically the technological aspect: the increasing prevalence of compact disc players, digital media, personal computers, and cellular telephones. Madeline Levine criticized what she saw as a large change in American culture – “a shift away from values of community
Community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

, spirituality
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

, and integrity, and toward competition, materialism and disconnection.”

Businesses have realized that wealthy consumers are the most attractive targets of marketing. The upper class's tastes, lifestyles, and preferences trickle down to become the standard for all consumers. The not so wealthy consumers can “purchase something new that will speak of their place in the tradition of affluence”. A consumer can have the instant gratification
Deferred gratification
Deferred gratification and delayed gratification denote a person’s ability to wait in order to obtain something that he or she wants. This intellectual attribute is also called impulse control, will power, self control, and “low” time preference, in economics...

 of purchasing an expensive item to improve social status.

Emulation is also a core component of 21st century consumerism. As a general trend, regular consumers seek to emulate those who are above them in the social hierarchy. The poor strive to imitate the wealthy and the wealthy imitate celebrities and other icons. The celebrity endorsement of products can be seen as evidence of the desire of modern consumers to purchase products partly or solely to emulate people of higher social status. This purchasing behavior may co-exist in the mind of a consumer with an image of oneself as being an individualist.

Overview



Since consumerism began, various individuals and groups have consciously sought an alternative lifestyle, such as the "simple living
Simple living
Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one's lifestyle. These may include reducing one's possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want...

", "eco-conscious
Environmentally friendly
Environmentally friendly are terms used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies claimed to inflict minimal or no harm on the environment....

", and "localvore
Local food
Local food or the local food movement is a "collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies - one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular...

"/"buy local
Local purchasing
Local purchasing is a preference to buy locally produced goods and services over those produced more distantly. It is very often abbreviated as a positive goal 'buy local' to parallel the phrase think globally, act locally common in green politics....

" movements.

In many critical contexts, consumerism is used to describe the tendency of people to identify strongly with products or services they consume, especially those with commercial brand
Brand
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."...

 names and perceived status-symbolism
Status symbol
A status symbol is a perceived visible, external denotation of one's social position and perceived indicator of economic or social status. Many luxury goods are often considered status symbols...

 appeal, e.g. a luxury car, designer clothing
Designer clothing
Designer clothing is clothing that bears the logo of a recognizable fashion designer.The 'designer' whose name is on the label may be:* A European couturier, e.g. Chanel, Christian Dior* A European luxury goods house, e.g. Armani, Gucci, Louis Vuitton...

, or expensive jewelry. A culture that is permeated by consumerism can be referred to as a consumer culture or a market culture. Consumerism can take extreme forms such that consumers sacrifice significant time and income not only to purchase but also to actively support a certain firm or brand.

Opponents of consumerism argue that many luxuries and unnecessary consumer products may act as social mechanism allowing people to identify like-minded individuals through the display of similar products, again utilizing aspects of status-symbolism to judge socioeconomic status
Socioeconomic status
Socioeconomic status is an economic and sociological combined total measure of a person's work experience and of an individual's or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education, and occupation...

 and social stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

. Some people believe relationships with a product or brand name are substitutes for healthy human relationships lacking in societies, and along with consumerism, create a cultural hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

, and are part of a general process of social control in modern society. Critics of consumerism often point out that consumerist societies are more prone to damage the environment, contribute to global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 and use up resources at a higher rate than other societies. Dr. Jorge Majfud says that "Trying to reduce environmental pollution without reducing consumerism is like combatting drug trafficking without reducing the drug addiction."

In 1955, economist Victor Lebow
Victor Lebow
Victor Lebow was a 20th century economist and retail analyst, perhaps best known for his quotation regarding the formulation of American consumer capitalism found in his paper "Price Competition in 1955"...

 stated:
Critics of consumerism include Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

, German historian Oswald Spengler
Oswald Spengler
Oswald Manuel Arnold Gottfried Spengler was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book The Decline of the West , published in 1918, which puts forth a cyclical theory of the rise and decline of civilizations...

 (who said, "Life in America is exclusively economic in structure and lacks depth"), and French writer Georges Duhamel
Georges Duhamel
Georges Duhamel , was a French author, born in Paris. Duhamel trained as a doctor, and during World War I was attached to the French Army. In 1920, he published Confession de minuit , the first of a series featuring the anti-hero Salavin...

, who held "American materialism up as a beacon of mediocrity that threatened to eclipse French civilization".

In an opinion segment of New Scientist
New Scientist
New Scientist is a weekly non-peer-reviewed English-language international science magazine, which since 1996 has also run a website, covering recent developments in science and technology for a general audience. Founded in 1956, it is published by Reed Business Information Ltd, a subsidiary of...

magazine published in August 2009, reporter Andy Coghlan cited William Rees of the University of British Columbia
University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia is a public research university. UBC’s two main campuses are situated in Vancouver and in Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley...

 and epidemiologist
Epidemiology
Epidemiology is the study of health-event, health-characteristic, or health-determinant patterns in a population. It is the cornerstone method of public health research, and helps inform policy decisions and evidence-based medicine by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive...

 Warren Hern
Warren Hern
Warren Martin Hern is an American physician best known for performing late-term abortions.. In 1973, he founded Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colorado...

 of the University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado at Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder is a public research university located in Boulder, Colorado...

, saying that human beings, despite considering themselves civilized thinkers, are "subconsciously still driven by an impulse for survival, domination and expansion... an impulse which now finds expression in the idea that inexorable economic growth is the answer to everything, and, given time, will redress all the world's existing inequalities." According to figures presented by Rees at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America
Ecological Society of America
The Ecological Society of America is a professional organization of ecological scientists. Based in the United States, ESA publishes a suite of publications, from peer-reviewed journals to newsletters, fact sheets and teaching resources. It holds an annual meeting at different locations in the...

, human society is in a "global overshoot", consuming 30% more material than is sustainable from the world's resources. Rees went on to state that at present, 85 countries are exceeding their domestic "bio-capacities", and compensate for their lack of local material by depleting the stocks of other countries, which have a material surplus due to their lower consumption.

Not all anti-consumerists oppose consumption
Consumption (economics)
Consumption is a common concept in economics, and gives rise to derived concepts such as consumer debt. Generally, consumption is defined in part by comparison to production. But the precise definition can vary because different schools of economists define production quite differently...

 in itself, but they argue against increasing the consumption of resources beyond what is environmentally sustainable
Sustainability
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

. Jonathan Porritt writes that consumers are often unaware of the negative environmental impacts of producing many modern goods and services, and that the extensive advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 industry only serves to reinforce increasing consumption.

Counter arguments



There has always been strong criticism of the anti-consumerist movement. Most of this comes from libertarian
Libertarianism
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 thought.

Libertarian criticisms of the anti-consumerist movement are largely based on the perception that it leads to elitism
Elitism
Elitism is the belief or attitude that some individuals, who form an elite — a select group of people with intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most...

. Namely, libertarians believe that no person should have the right to decide for others what goods are necessary for living and which aren't, or that luxuries are necessarily wasteful, and thus argue that anti-consumerism is a precursor to central planning or a totalitarian society. Twitchell, in his book Living It Up, sarcastically remarked that the logical outcome of the anti-consumerism movement would be a return to the sumptuary laws that existed in ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, historical periods prior to the era of Karl Marx in the 19th century.

See also


  • Affluenza
    Affluenza
    Affluenza, from affluence and influenza, is a term used by critics of capitalism and consumerism. Sources define it as follows:Proponents of the term consider that the prizing of endless increases in material wealth may lead to feelings of worthlessness and dissatisfaction rather than experiences...

  • Anthropological theories of value
    Anthropological theories of value
    Anthropological theories of value attempt to expand on the traditional theories of value used by economists or ethicists. They are often broader in scope than the theories of value of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, etc. usually including sociological, political,...

  • Anti-consumerism
    Anti-consumerism
    Anti-consumerism refers to the socio-political movement against the equating of personal happiness with consumption and the purchase of material possessions...

  • Bourgeois personality
  • Commercialism
    Commercialism
    Commercialism, in its original meaning, is the practices, methods, aims, and spirit of commerce or business. Today, however, it primarily refers to the tendency within open-market capitalism to turn everything into objects, images, and services sold for the purpose of generating profit...

  • Commodity fetishism
    Commodity fetishism
    In Marx's critique of political economy, commodity fetishism denotes the mystification of human relations said to arise out of the growth of market trade, when social relationships between people are expressed as, mediated by and transformed into, objectified relationships between things .The...

  • Conspicuous consumption
    Conspicuous consumption
    Conspicuous consumption is spending on goods and services acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. In the mind of a conspicuous consumer, such display serves as a means of attaining or maintaining social status....

  • Consumer activism
    Consumer activism
    Consumer activism is activism undertaken on behalf of consumers, to assert consumer rights.-Objectives and tactics:Goals include making goods and services available to consumers safer, better quality, environmentally friendly, and more readily available....

  • Consumer Bill of Rights
    Consumer Bill of Rights
    Before the mid-twentieth century, consumers were without rights with regard to their interaction with products and commercial producers. Consumers had little ground on which to defend themselves against faulty or defective products, or against misleading or deceptive advertising methods.By the...

  • Consumer capitalism
    Consumer capitalism
    Consumer capitalism is a theoretical economic and political condition in which consumer demand is manipulated, in a deliberate and coordinated way, on a very large scale, through mass-marketing techniques, to the advantage of sellers....

  • Consumer ethnocentrism
    Consumer ethnocentrism
    Consumer ethnocentrism is derived from the more general psychological concept of ethnocentrism.Basically, ethnocentric individuals tend to view their group as superior to others. As such, they view other groups from the perspective of their own, and reject those that are different and accept those...

  • Consumer protection
    Consumer protection
    Consumer protection laws designed to ensure fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and may provide additional...

  • Consumption (economics)
    Consumption (economics)
    Consumption is a common concept in economics, and gives rise to derived concepts such as consumer debt. Generally, consumption is defined in part by comparison to production. But the precise definition can vary because different schools of economists define production quite differently...

  • Cost the limit of price
    Cost the limit of price
    Cost the limit of price was a maxim coined by Josiah Warren, indicating a version of the labor theory of value. Warren maintained that the just compensation for labor could only be an equivalent amount of labor . Thus, profit, rent, and interest were considered unjust economic arrangements...

  • Economic materialism
    Economic materialism
    Materialism is a mindset that views the consumption and acquisition of material goods as positive and desirable. It is often bound up with a value system which regards social status as being intrinsically linked to affluence as well as the perception that happiness can be increased through...

  • Environmental impact of aviation
  • Frugality
    Frugality
    Frugality is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the use of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance....

  • Geoffrey Miller (evolutionary psychologist)
    Geoffrey Miller (evolutionary psychologist)
    Geoffrey F. Miller , Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico, is an American evolutionary psychologist.Miller is a 1987 graduate of Columbia University, where he earned a B.A. in biology and psychology. He received his PhD in cognitive psychology from Stanford University...

  • Homo consumericus
    Homo consumericus
    ]Homo consumericus is a neologism used in the social sciences, specially by Gad Saad in his book The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption. and Gilles Lipovetsky's Le Bonheur Paradoxal...

  • "Keeping up with the Joneses
    Keeping up with the Joneses
    "Keeping up with the Joneses" is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one's neighbor as a benchmark for social caste or the accumulation of material goods...

    "
  • Philosophy of futility
    Philosophy of futility
    Philosophy of futility is a phrase coined by Columbia University marketing professor Paul Nystrom to describe the disposition caused by the monotony of the new industrial age. Nystrom observed the natural effect of this malaise was seeking gratification found in frivolous things, such as...

  • Planned obsolescence
    Planned obsolescence
    Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence in industrial design is a policy of deliberately planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete or nonfunctional after a certain period of time...

  • Post-materialism
    Post-materialism
    The concept of post-materialism is a tool in developing an understanding of modern culture. It can be considered in reference of three distinct concepts of materialism...

     (economics)
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
    The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
    The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less is a 2004 book by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. In the book, Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers...

    , Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers
  • The Century of the Self
    The Century of the Self
    The Century of the Self is an award winning British television documentary film. It focuses on how Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and Edward Bernays influenced the way corporations and governments have thought about,‭ dealt with, and controlled ‬people....

    , a documentary by filmmaker Adam Curtis released in 2002
  • Simple living
    Simple living
    Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one's lifestyle. These may include reducing one's possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want...



Further reading


Books
  • Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, 1932. Shows how a society can be influenced by consumerism.
  • Barber, Benjamin R. (2008) Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole. W. W. Norton ISBN 0393330893
  • Chin, Elizabeth (2001) Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture University of Minnesota Press ISBN 978-0816635115
  • Humphery, Kim (2009) Excess, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK.
  • Laermer, Richard
    Richard Laermer
    Richard Laermer is the author of eight books and CEO of RLM Public Relations, a PR firm he founded in 1991...

    ; Simmons, Mark, Punk Marketing, New York : Harper Collins, 2007. ISBN 978-0-06-115110-1 (Review of the book by Marilyn Scrizzi, in Journal of Consumer Marketing 24(7), 2007)
  • Lewis, Jeff (2010) Crisis in the Global Mediasphere: Desire, Displeasure and Cultural Transformation, Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  • Miller, Eric, Attracting the affluent : the first guide to America’s changing ultimate market, Naperville, Ill. : Financial Sourcebooks, 1991. ISBN 0942061233 (from the editors of Research Alert newsletter) (Hardcover, 246 pages)
  • Shell, Ellen Ruppel
    Ellen Ruppel Shell
    Ellen Ruppel Shell is an American journalist, a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, and professor of science journalism at Boston University.-Biography:Shell was born in Auburn, New York, United States. In 1974, Shell received a B.A...

    , Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, New York : Penguin Press, 2009. ISBN 9781594202155
  • Veblen, Thorstein
    Thorstein Veblen
    Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Torsten Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, and a leader of the so-called institutional economics movement...

     (1899): The Theory of the Leisure Class
    The Theory of the Leisure Class
    The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions is a book, first published in 1899, by the Norwegian-American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago....

    : an economic study of institutions
    , Dover Publications, Mineola, N.Y., 1994, ISBN 0-486-28062-4. (also available: Project Gutenberg e-text)
  • Whitaker, Jan (2006): Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class, St. Martin's Press, N.Y., ISBN 0-312-32635-1. (Hardcover, 352 pages)
  • Charles Arthur Willard
    Charles Arthur Willard
    Charles Arthur Willard is an American argumentation and rhetorical theorist.He received his doctorate at the University of Illinois, Urbana, USA, in 1972. From 1974 to 1982 he was the Director of Forensics at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire . He has lectured in Austria, Canada, France,...

     Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge: A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy. University of Chicago Press. 1996.
  • Agnes Nairn et al., “Watching, Wanting and Wellbeing: Exploring the links – a study of 9 to 13 year-olds”, National Consumer Council, 2007
  • Worldwatch Institute
    Worldwatch Institute
    The Worldwatch Institute is a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. Worldwatch was named as one of the top ten sustainable development research organizations by Globescan Survey of Sustainability Experts.-Mission:...

    , State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability
    State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability
    State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability is a book by Worldwatch Institute, published by W. W. Norton & Company...

    (ISBN 978-0-393-33726-6), W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.


Video
  • Adam Curtis
    Adam Curtis
    Adam Curtis is a British BAFTA winning documentarian and a writer, television producer, director and narrator. He works for BBC Current Affairs.-Early life and education:Curtis was born in 1955...

    , The Century of the Self
    The Century of the Self
    The Century of the Self is an award winning British television documentary film. It focuses on how Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and Edward Bernays influenced the way corporations and governments have thought about,‭ dealt with, and controlled ‬people....

    , documentary series.
  • Annie Leonard
    Annie Leonard
    Annie Leonard is an American proponent of sustainability and critic of excessive consumerism. She is most known for her controversial animated film The Story of Stuff about the life-cycle of material goods.-Biography:...

    , "The Story of Stuff
    The Story of Stuff
    The Story of Stuff is a short polemical animated documentary about the lifecycle of material goods. The documentary is critical of excessive consumerism and promotes sustainability....

    ", short film.


Journals

External links