Essay On American Consumerism

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...In modern times, the term “consumerism” has been associated with a preoccupation with the acquisition of goods and commodities. Traditionally, it has been used with negative connotations – as a “problem” that indicates a lack of discretion among “buyers” and “consumers” regarding what goods to buy and why to buy them in an increasingly commercialized environment. Among Marxist thinkers especially, what happened has been linked to exploitation under industrial capitalism. Consumerism has been associated with the growth of industrial capitalism in Europe from the 18th century and its global spread thereafter – a development that was accompanied by economies of scale and increases in production and productivity. Such increases were sustained by growth in demand, both in the immediate neighbourhood of centres of production and further a-field. Improvements in technology and extensive use of the division of labour enabled manufacturers to produce on a large scale for “wants”, “needs” and “fashions”. Commercialisation of leisure and the penetration by innovative manufacturers, of religious practices, public health, and education reinforced the habits of acquisition and increasing “consumption”. In European society, in these circumstances, availability of goods ceased to be a substantial problem. Rather, more important were means to ensure that they were in demand and “consumed”. If this was not achieved, “gluts” and economic depressions would take place,......

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...CONSUMERISM Consumerism is the idea that personal happiness can be obtained through consumption, the purchase of goods and services. One of the phrases supporting consumerism is "Money can buy happiness." The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen or, more recently by a movement called Enoughism. 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. In economics, 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, especially in the British sense of the term). | History | | Consumerism has strong links with the Western world, but is in fact an international phenomenon. People purchasing goods and consuming materials in excess of their basic needs is as old as the first civilizations (see Ancient Egypt, Babylon and Ancient Rome, for example). A great turn in consumerism arrived just before the Industrial Revolution. While before the norm had been the scarcity of resources, The Industrial Revolution created an unusual situation: for the first time in history products were available in outstanding quantities, at outstandingly low prices, being thus available to virtually everyone. And so began the era of mass......

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Consumerism in America

...Consumerism in America Our economy is based off of consumerism and therefore we have been persuaded by our culture to believe purchasing entities will make us happy. We are trapped in the idea that the more we consume the happier we will become. Many Americans are waking up from this disillusionment through their realization that happiness is not derived from stuff but from a positive perspective on the coexistence of people and experiences. Material possessions on their own do not make people happy. Alex Honnold, a free soloist who lives a simple life devoted only to climbing, insists that what makes people happy is their concentration on community, family and their own tight nit little web. Family and friend groups are ultimately where people find the most satisfaction because there they feel they belong and are accepted. Yet simple experiences such as eating at a dinner table with family are becoming more and more rare. Instead, family members are often focused on their iPhones, laptops or eat completely removed from the table in front of a television. These material objects that are believed to make a person happy instead inhibit the simplest of enjoyable experiences like a family dinner. Outside the family, young people are not experiencing the happiness that is the present moment and the people in front of them. They are constantly connected with everyone they know through services like facebook and texting which offer quick jolts of shallow happiness but remove......

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Consumerism in America

...American Culture of Consumerism Present day American culture is heavily influenced by consumerism. American’s are focused on material possessions, instead of working for their status in society they would rather project a desired status with the use of material possessions. The rest of the world views Americans as a more materialistic society than majority of the other countries. Americans love to eat, work, party, and spend money all in excess. This means that they value and collect more material objects than most people would ever dream of owning. The American people are so focused on maintaining their material possessions to show off their status, that they focus less on building relationships and developing a sense of self and a sense of appreciation. The marketing world only takes this materialism higher, it focuses on this insatiable “hunger” for the newest trends and thus advertises their products to appeal to a wide variety of consumers. Tom Horton, a writer for The Baltimore Sun, helps put it in perspective in his article The Toll of American Materialism stating “For the record, Americans are five percent of Earth's population, consuming about thirty percent of the Earth's nonrenewable natural resources. If global trade actually enabled the other ninety five percent of the world to live the American dream, we'd need another five or so Earths to support it.” For Americans it is more important to obtain, maintain, and protect their material objects than it is to......

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...Consumerism Consumerism has become a way of life for people in the postmodern society. In a broad sense it provides some of the aspirations people live in order to try and create a better life. Religions and traditions have been overshadowed by consumerism, which reinforces the worst aspects in us, an obsessive desire to consume more. This society is driven by materialistic things “The more we consume the better our lives will be” The short story”To Feed the Night” by Philip illustrates how people are affected by consumerism. The young couple in the story barely have enough money to live on, but the husband insists on buying a new house as soon as he gets the opportunity. Whenever the couple buy a house they seem satisfied in the beginning but after a couple of months everything starts looking dull and boring. The husband has no limit to satisfaction, and he is a victim of the consumer society. Consumerism makes a person aim for the best even though they have something that’s good enough. Replacing the old with the new becomes a pattern, for example when women claim they have nothing to wear for a special occasion although their wardrobe is full of clothes. The real estate agent Mr. Bell sells the houses by persuading and manipulating the husband and making him believe he needs more, to create a better future. Just like Mr. Bell the media bombards people with all the advertising from message billboard, TV and magazines. When the media tries to sell a product, they......

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...Consumerism is the theory that a country that consumed goods and services in large quantities will be better off economically. Consumerism can also be known as the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable this means that preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods. Consumerism can be referred to as a policy that promotes greediness in consumers. Consumerism is also sourced as a movement towards consumer protection that promotes improvement in safety standards and truthful packaging and advertisement. Consumerism has a massive effect on the environment. Because of consumerism countries now days misuse land and resources for personal use, this misuse of land and resources is very bad because the countries take more than they can replace. This is therefore detrimental in the long run because not only the environment but also the people are affected by this. Another effect that consumerism has on the environment is pollution. Pollution is definitely related to consumption or increased consumption. That is, the consumption itself, plus the production and waste of products used in consumption. Automobiles are a major examples of where increased consumption causes pollution. Because automobiles are in demand every single day and because other technological advancements in automobile production has increased, there is a vast amount of resources needed to build or assemble the automobiles, minerals like metal need to......

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...Consumerism: Its Huge Role in the Environment America is one of the most affluent nations in the world. Many Americans are able to live a life with such disposable luxury that they are often unaware of the impact of their choices. There is a constant bombardment of media images in daily life that manipulate people into believing that their desire for things is an actual need to have them thus creating a constant consumer. Consumerism is at an all time high and the rate at which such affluent nations consume is causing a dramatic change in the environment. After reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce it has become increasingly evident that as a nation there needs to be more awareness of how consumerism is rapidly changing how life is lived. In order to fully understand how consumerism impacts the environment there needs to be a careful understanding of what makes humans consume at such high rates, what role businesses play in catering to the wants and needs of consumers, and most importantly how the environment responds to all of these new demands. It is important to understand what consumerism is and how it affects life. The Oxford English Dictionary defines consumerism as, “the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods”. In his book The Ecology of Commerce, Hawken states, ”every American consumes about 36 pounds of resources a week, while 2,000 pounds of waste are discarded to support that consumption”(45). It is highly unlikely that people......

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...The term consumerism is defined simplistically by the masses. Its common definition of increasing spending for wants and supposed needs may be attributed to the small world we often find ourselves in. While this definition is true, it reduces the concept of consumerism to a culture of overspending. If we were to check the entire concept of consumerism, we would find that more than a habit, it is a political movement and an economic instrument. In its political aspect, consumerism is an institutionalized effort to protect consumers from exploitative policies and practices such as “inferior or dangerous products, unfair pricing, and false advertising”. It is also a movement for upholding honest business practices. This political movement is to serve as check and balance for the economic theory manifested in the markets that increasing consumption of goods and services form a solid economy. This complex concept of consumerism is based upon the increasing mass production to aid the American economy after several economic declines. Come 1970s, however, the element of spending in consumerism became competitive and corrupted to display the productivity achieved by the masses. So the culture of keeping up with the Kardashians, or the Joneses if you want to be retrospective came to be and this culture is what we often mean when we define consumerism. Of course, this concept would not have been constructed without the mechanism of the media. With the growth of mass production, media......

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...universe’ through to ‘how to live the life you want’, and from ‘the problem with consumerism’ through to ‘how to be happy’. For more information visit Copyright Richard Docwra 2009 © Published by Life² Life Squared Limited Registration number: 6924570 Registered address: 22 Luther Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 9XA Copyright © 2009 Richard Docwra. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s permission. Please contact Life² if you wish to syndicate this information. Contents Introduction 4 Advertising 5 Consumerism – beyond advertising 9 The effects of consumerism 14 What is wrong with consumerism? 17 What can we do about it? 27 References Inside back page Introduction Introduction C onsumerism is one of the strongest forces affecting our lives in the modern world. The term ‘consumerism’ does not simply refer to immediate factors in our daily lives such as the omnipresence of advertising, but anything connected to the overarching idea in our modern society that in order to be happier, better and more successful people we have to have more stuff. In this booklet, we will explore the power of consumerism, how it manifests itself in our lives and the effects it has on us.  The problem with consumerism Advertising E very day, each of us is......

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...about this and decided to cut back the cost which will help to save the environment. However many economist thinks that it might have detrimental effect on the economic well-being. Consumerism refers to consume any good with higher rate. Depending on the production and selling of goods the whole economy is judged. The gross national product is the sum of total goods and services manufactured for an exact period at an exact time. Higher growth rate is determined on the amount of produced goods and also the consumption of the goods by the society. The per capita income of the individuals used as a base for the judgement of the prosperity of the nation. Therefore, good economy is mainly based on the higher purchasing power of the people. Consumerism has created mass market, industrialization and cultural behaviour that ensure more income to purchase every modern and growing output (Goodwin et al 2009). Moreover this enhanced market and industrialization provides more goods and services to the consumers. It also leads to prompt development of technological innovation, globalisation and fundamental economic modification (Stilwell 2006). Through consumerism lifestyle, people get the chance to choose from variety of goods and services. As a whole, the society gets a better living style through consumerism. Output (Y) ( Output (Y) ( Income (Y) Income (Y) Spending (Aggregated Demand or AD) Spending (Aggregated Demand or AD) The......

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...advertising and selling products that support reasonable standards of living. Industrial and product designers must prioritize the importance of functionality and durability in the process of design. In other words, when they design a product, they must focus on the needs and the importance of the products function in addition to its materials so it lasts longer. If all industrial designers focused more on these two aspects and less on the “beauty” or aesthetics of objects, then our whole world will consume less. But first, lets talk about how consumerism. How much more should we get engrossed in blind consumerism before we take a second to realize its harmful effect on planet Earth, our universal home? Nowadays, with developing technology and growing globalization, all areas of the Earth are brought closer together; however it is only a matter of time before we see it falling apart due to excessive and harmful consumerism. Consumerism becomes excessive when it extends beyond what is needed. When we begin consuming more than is needed, boundaries are removed. Personal credit allows us to make purchases beyond our income-level. Advertisements subtly reshape our desires around material possessions. And the consumption culture that surrounds us begins to make excessive consumption appear natural and normal. Excessive consumption leads to bigger houses, faster cars, trendier clothes, fancier technology, and overfilled drawers. It promises happiness, but never......

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...Environmental Effects of Consumerism December 18, 2010 By admin Leave a Comment Over consumption of tangible, non-essential products is part of what defines the developed world, with America and Western Europe taking the top prize for consumerism. Unfortunately the rest of the world, including more and more developing countries, isn’t far behind. Consumerism is defined as the need to purchase goods and services that reflect or improve one’s status. Even though it creates jobs and keeps the economy moving, consumerism is taking a toll on the environment. Natural resources are being depleted and the ecosystems are being compromised by disposable plastic products, bottles, and shopping bags. Many items, which were once thought of as luxury items have become necessities. Products are made, quickly become obsolete and are replaced. Items that are disposable, are made to be used only once, or just for fun, flood our markets. The cost of producing products, the raw materials needed and the energy consumed, is not taken into account when cost is measured. Reliance on automobiles, even in countries such as China, where not long ago bicycles outnumbered cars, has made an enormous impact on the environment in the form of pollution and the dependence on fossil fuels. Another negative impact from consumerism is the over consumption of meat, processed food, and fast, ready-made food. Raising livestock to meet the demands of the consumer impacts the water supply, and produces the......

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...Consumerism which is a fact a longstanding international phenomenon, has multitude links with human life because people needs some requirements such as purchasing goods and consuming materials. Nowadays, people’s requirements were increased and consumerism has expanded. People was spurred on consumerism by the capitalism and with the spreading of capitalism, consumerism has increased, because consumerism fuels the capitalism. In addition consumerism has substantially effect of business domain that direct to companies in a competitive trade. Hence, there are three causes such as advertising, marketing and purchasing power that lead to increasing consumerism First of all, advertising has striking effects of consumerism. Nowadays advertising is an effective strategy of selling new products. People often wants to purchase more clothes, cars, bigger house and shoes, because people needs these requirements. Of course when they are purchasing these requirements, advertisement has been advisor to buy them. Advertising exposes people’s desires that have interest to buy something. In addition with the technology age advertisements have been increased and with the more efficient advertisement, people encourage to consumerism. For example; some companies which are selling sport goods they start to use celebrity person in their advertisement and they are using some slogans as well Therefore advertisement has some effect on people and it leads to increasing consumerism Secondly ; ......

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... Subject: CONSUMERISM Working Title: consumerısm and the mıllenıum generatıon INTRODUCTION Topic: how does consumerısm affect the mıllennıum generatıon? Definition/Explanation: consumerısm : the state of an advanced industrial society in which a lot of goods are bought and sold • disapproving when too much attention is given to buying and owning things (taken from Millenium generation : The millennials have different characteristics than any generation before them and in order to serve them better, K-12 education and colleges and universities are having to change the way they do business. The millennials have grown up in a society that is very different than any group before them. They have been plugged into technology since they were babies, are a safe generation, are the first generation for which Hispanics/Latinos will be the largest minority group instead of African Americans and have the most educated mothers of any generation before them.  They are the most scheduled generation ever, are true multi-taskers, expect to have 6-8 careers in their lifetime and are attracted to diverse environments. Taken from Disagreement about this issue: Thesis: although some people may disagree, consumerism has affected the millenium generation negatively by damaging their physical health,damaging their psychology and damaging their relationships. BODY 1. Argument supportıng your opinion: consumerısm affects......

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...Consumerism Term 3, Lecture 1 Now, consumerism is more widespread than before. Before- What you produce determines who you are and how people look at you Now- Consumption= what is consumed, when it is consumed and how much, determines who you are and how people look at you 2. The roots of consumerism Began towards the end of the 18th century Sugar, tea, coffee- consumerist products With these consumerist products, came the associated pieces (cups, coffee cups, saucers, coffee shops) Consumerism= caused by increased prosperity. As people earn more, they consume more. Social, political and economic revolutions changed people- from this comes consumerism Consumerism becomes feminized- focuses on what goes on in the homes. Which is a woman’s job After consumerism (18th century), women are seen as more beautiful. Before, men were seen more beautiful. Thus women buy more to make themselves more beautiful. Men started to go shopping, as a fun activity. This was not the case before consumerism came along. 3. The growth on consumerism Uneven geographically- consumerism more in urban areas than rural areas a) changes in retailing(shops) changes in retailing boosts consumerism = department stores advertisement boosts consumerism = first in America Peasant societies don’t produce consumerism Changes in media boosts consumerism= radio Kleptomania= compulsion to steal...

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Residents of a prosperous country have to go no further than a supermarket to get all they need to live a sustainable life. This is undoubtedly a benefit of living in a capitalistic society; however, there is also a flip side to which many scientists and philosophers call attention. This is the ideology of consumerism, which is often embodied in a consumer’s urge to purchase goods in ever-greater amounts, even if those goods are not needed. Consumerism is supported by manufacturers who do their best to sell their products by encouraging people to buy more and more. An example of this is the smartphone market. According to Pulitzer-Prize-winning American author Anna Quindlen, “A person in the United States replaces a cell phone every 16 months, not because the cell phone is old, but because it is oldish” (2008, para. 6). As a result of this consumerism, the more people want and buy, the less they appreciate the value of their possessions.

One of the most powerful forces that contribute to the promotion of consumerism is the omnipresent advertising in capitalistic societies. Advertising is an essential component in the marketing strategy of any product, but at the same time, it affects the human mind. Advertisements portray products as necessary objects that are required to keep one’s social identity secure. Thus, they do not represent wants, but instead create a need for luxury goods. Numerous print and TV advertisements persuade potential customers that it is a Gucci bag, a Calvin Klein dress, or a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes that define their personality and character—not the personal traits they possess.

The youth are probably the most vulnerable target of advertisers. Grown-ups can often distinguish between what they need and do not need; however, young people tend to be less capable of critical thinking. Since their world is created by their aspirations to keep up with modern trends and acquire the most up-to-date gadgets, they are easier to manipulate (Schor, 2004, p.11). Quindlen (2008) provides a perfect example of this manipulation. She confesses that television advertising “made [her] want a Chatty Cathy doll so much as a kid that when [she] saw her under the tree [her] head almost exploded” (para. 3).

On the other hand, advertising is not the only phenomena responsible for the increasing numbers of people obsessed with the need to buy new items. Marketers have begun to compare consumers to roaches, “You spray them and spray them and they get immune after a while” (From Consumerism to Personal Bankruptcy, n.d., para. 10). This refers to how advertisements hardly have an effect on most people anymore. While advertisements are beguiling, if they were that effective, people would be rushing to stores to purchase the advertised products in higher numbers than already present.

Another reason why the idea of permanent acquisition of goods has become dominant in the minds of many people, both adults and adolescents, is the lack of skills necessary to maintain their own resources. Since they did not earn it themselves, the youth are often unaware of the value of money; they demand that their parents satisfy the desires instilled in them by advertising. According to a survey designed to measure children’s knowledge about financial management conducted in the United States by the charity organization Jump$tart Coalition, survey-takers scored an average of 52 percent. This percentage indicates a weak awareness of the usage of money (From Consumerism to Personal Bankruptcy, n.d., para. 16). Even adults would rather spend their disposable income on a new suit or an extravagant holiday than save it. On the other hand, many university and high school students take part-time jobs as graders or professors’ assistants not only to broaden their knowledge, but also to learn to use their hard-earned cash capably. Adults’ earnings have hit an all-time low due to the recession, and many of them are now trying to control their expenditure and pay off their debts. These factors weaken the indirect link between poor financial management and consumerism.

Also worth considering is the yearly reduction in the number of people who want to save their money for the future. If consumers do not save their money, they will obviously use it to buy innumerable useless goods, resulting in consumerism. An article published in the Christian Science Monitor asserts, “Americans’ personal savings fell to -0.5% last year, the first time since the Depression that the savings rate has been negative for a year… it reflects how irresistible consumerism has become in the American psyche” (para. 3).

Another significant factor that plays into consumerism is the way that people’s priorities have recently changed. In the past, consumers were unable to purchase luxuries just because they wanted them. Due to insufficient funds, they had to focus on their needs rather than their wants (From Consumerism to Personal Bankruptcy, n.d., para. 18). Necessity forced them to choose what they needed most; thus, they developed the skills necessary to sort their needs by order of importance. This prevented them from experiencing the additional stress connected with paying off loans and debts. Nowadays, the advent of credit facilities allow consumers to have an almost unlimited possibility for purchasing what they wanted but could not afford. Credit cards allow buyers to have the impression that they have inexhaustible financial resources. The only choice people have to make now is what they want to buy first. This creates the illusion that desirable products are easily accessible; the world is perceived as one gigantic mall. In addition, according to the article “Dhamma in the age of Globalization” (2008), an average modern individual “sees oneself as the center to judge the world, treating others as mere tools to satisfy one’s goals.” This attitude has led to shaping a consumerist attitude towards life with its dire consequences.

The spreading of the consumerist ideology is facilitated by a combination of different factors, among the most significant being an overexposure to advertising, a lack of skills to maintain financial resources, and a global shift in people’s values. Logically, it therefore seems there are at least two ways to prevent, or at least slow down, the further expansion of this thoughtless attitude to life, money, and goods: supplying financial education to explain to various age groups how to plan a budget more effectively—additionally, teaching them to examine the psychological motives of their uncontrolled desire for acquisition, to see what tricks manufacturers and advertisers use to catch their audience’s attention, and to recognize how they also manipulate consumer’s wishes and point of view. The benefits of a critical attitude toward saving more money, therefore reducing stress, should be emphasized. Teaching the youth the value of money, along with the skill to distinguish their needs from their wants, would also contribute to forming a healthy attitude towards goods. A world without consumerism is highly unlikely to occur in the near future, as it is too complex of a issue to eliminate entirely. However, the recession that erupted a few months ago has had a colossal impact on consumer spending. If this trend of reduced spending continues for the next several years, it might reverse consumerism’s materialistic illusion of life.


Quindlen, Anna. (2008). Stuff is Not Salvation. Newsweek.

Schor, Juliet. (2004). Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture. Scribner.

(2013). From Consumerism to Personal Bankruptcy: Its Causes & Its Consequences. Fong and Partners Inc.

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