What Feature Or Features Allowed The Growth Of A Consumerist Culture


Individual well-being and happiness are fundamentally dependent on acquiring consumer goods and material possessions, according to the concept of consumerism, which holds that increasing consumption of goods and services purchased in the market is always a desirable goal and that increasing consumption of consumer goods and material possessions is always a desirable goal. Economically, it is associated with the largely Keynesian belief that consumer spending is the primary driver of the economy and that incentivizing people to spend is a significant governmental objective.

Key Takeaways

  • According to consumerism, those who consume things and services in great amounts will be better off as a result of their actions. Some economists think that consumer spending encourages output and economic growth
  • However, others disagree. Consumption, on the other hand, has been heavily condemned for its economic, social, environmental, and psychological implications
  • This includes

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People who live in an acapitalisteconomy are more likely than those who do not to engage in a lifestyle of excessive materialism centered on reflexive, wasteful, or ostentatious overconsumption, which is defined as follows: To put it another way, consumerism is widely recognized as having contributed to the erosion of traditional values and ways of life, the exploitation of consumers by big business, environmental damage, and severe psychological consequences.

  • The economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen, for example, is most known for coining the phrase “conspicuous consumption” in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class, which was published in the nineteenth century (1899).
  • It is customary to link this style of consumption with the rich, yet it may be applied to people of any economic background.
  • After World War II stimulated the U.S.
  • Consumerism flourished throughout this period, emphasizing the advantages that capitalism had to offer in terms of raising living standards and promoting an economic strategy that put the interests of consumers first.
  • Consumers gain from the usefulness of the consumer items that they purchase, economists believe, but companies also benefit from higher sales, income, and profit as a result of consumer spending.
  • Additionally, the firms that manufacture steel, tires, and automobile upholstery enjoy a rise in revenue as well.

In response, corporations (as well as some economists) have evolved to regard expanding consumption as a crucial aim in developing and sustaining a successful economy, regardless of whether or not increased spending is beneficial to the consumer or society as a whole.

The Impact of Consumerism

According to Keynesian macroeconomics, the major goal of economic policymakers is to increase consumer spending through fiscal and monetary policy. A significant portion of aggregate demand and gross domestic product (GDP) comes from consumer spending, hence increasing consumer spending is often considered to be the most effective strategy to drive the economy toward growth. According to consumerism, the consumer is the primary focus of economic policy and serves as a cash cow for the corporate sector, with the only idea that growing consumption is advantageous to the economy.

Consumerism also has a role in the development of some corporate practices.

Marketing and advertising might become overly focused on increasing customer demand for new items rather than informing consumers about existing ones.

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Conspicuous Consumption

The economistThorstein Veblen established the notion of ostentatious consumerism, in which individuals acquire, own, and use items not for their immediate use but rather as a means of expressing their social and economic standing through their purchases, ownership, and usage. Conspicuous consumerism increased in tandem with the rise in living standards following the Industrial Revolution. Consumption at high rates can be a wasteful zero-sum or even negative-sum activity because actual resources are depleted in the production of commodities that are not appreciated for their utility but rather for the image they project.

In a contemporary industrial economy, the consumption of actual resources in zero- or negative-sum competition for social status can cancel out the benefits from trade, resulting in the establishment of destructive markets for consumers and other commodities and services.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Consumerism

Consumer spending, argue proponents of consumerism, may help to drive an economy and lead to higher production of products and services by increasing demand. Consumer spending can increase as a result of increased consumer confidence, which can result in increased GDP. Consumer confidence indicators, retail sales, and personal consumption expenditures are all showing evidence of a solid consumer demand in the United States, according to the Federal Reserve. Profits from the sale of consumer products can be realized by business owners, employees in the industry, and owners of raw materials, either directly or indirectly through downstream customers.


Consumerism is frequently critiqued on the basis of cultural differences. Those who oppose consumerism believe that it might lead to a materialistic culture that is blind to other important values. Traditional systems of production and ways of living may be supplanted by a concentration on consuming ever more expensive items in ever bigger numbers, as long as the amount of money spent on them remains constant. It is common to equate consumerism with globalization because it encourages the development and consumption of internationally traded goods and brands, which might be incompatible with local cultures and patterns of economic activity.

The use of consumer products and the immediate consequences of consumption are commonly related with environmental concerns, to the degree that the consumer goods industry and the direct consequences of consumption create environmental externalities.

Finally, consumerism is frequently critiqued from a psychological standpoint.

People who structure their life around consumerist goals, such as product acquisition, report lower emotions, higher unhappiness in their relationships, and other psychological difficulties, according to psychological study.

Experiments in psychology have revealed that those who are exposed to consumerist ideals that are based on income, social position, and material things experience more anxiety and unhappiness.

The Rise of American Consumerism


The Rise of American Consumerism

Automobiles, televisions, and other contemporary appliances were among the purchases made by Americans. The Library of Congress is a federal government institution that collects and organizes information. At the conclusion of World War II, returning American servicemen found themselves in a nation that had changed dramatically from the one they had left four years earlier. Because of World War II output, the American economy was able to emerge from the Great Depression, and from the late 1940s on, young people enjoyed a significant increase in their purchasing power.

  1. This occurred at the same time that an unprecedented number of young couples were marrying and having children.
  2. Bill of Rights, which were typically located in quickly developing suburbs.
  3. In fact, throughout the 1950s, the American consumer was hailed as a patriotic citizen for his or her role in contributing to the eventual triumph of the American way of life.
  4. Aside from televisions and automobiles, the commodities that people wished for the most towards the conclusion of the war included washing machines, refrigerators, toasters, and vacuum cleaners: the appliances that would allow them to update their lives.
  5. Elaine Tyler May, a historian, said, “The principles connected with domestic expenditure reinforced traditional American concerns with practicality and morality, rather than grandeur and luxury, as opposed to international spending.
  6. Automobiles were in more demand than ever before as a result of the tremendous rise in suburban populations, and they were within reach of many first-time buyers.
  7. With tales involving ethnic families, certain television series, such as The Goldbergs and The Honeymooners, targeted to working- and middle-class audiences in the United States.
  8. “The Good Life” is a term used to describe a way of life that is enjoyable and fulfilling.
  9. Working-class individuals might accomplish the upward mobility they desired if they were able to afford the items that marked “the good life.” Selling in order to buy is a common practice.
  10. After all, Tupperware was created to assist housewives in maintaining the freshness and sanitation of food throughout storage and preparation of meals.
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The following is what Jean Conlogue said when asked how she attracted new dealers to her Tupperware distributorship: “We attempted to meet a need for something that they desired, like new carpet or a new refrigerator, and then we would lay out for them how many parties they would have to throw.” Promotions and rewards provided by the corporation helped to further increase consumption.

Sales representatives from Tupperware were rewarded with luxury equipment ranging from washing machines to double boilers in recognition of their achievements.

Consumerism Positives

It is an economic and sociological method of perceiving and comprehending the economy that is based on the notion of inhabitants in a specific country consuming a continuous supply of goods and services. Individual consumers’ consumption of goods and services contributes to the economic engine of a consumerist society in that it generates employment opportunities for employees and wealth for company owners and operators. While consumerism as an ideology may be found in a variety of different sorts of economic systems, it is most typically connected with capitalist economic systems.

Consumerism is an important component of the supply and demand concept because it involves the provision of goods and services to consumers, as well as the demand (consumption) of those goods and services by those consumers.

In general, consumerism has five major positive aspects, which are as follows:

  • The expansion of economic production and the creation of jobs
  • The growth in wealth enjoyed by corporations
  • The promotion of competition between corporations
  • The availability and diversity of goods and services People’s quality of life is improved as a result of this.

However, on the bright side, economists believe that consumption is crucial for economic growth both domestically and internationally at the national and international levels. Consumption, at its core, is the belief that consumers should purchase commodities on a large scale from producers (business owners). This system is critically essential to the economy since it is a key contributor to the production of new jobs and income. For example, in a consumerist society, the ongoing purchase of things results in the creation of jobs for a wide variety of individuals and industries.

  1. These individuals might include manufacturing employees, engineers, advertisers, and other professionals.
  2. Even more precisely, because many of today’s commodities are created in countries such as China and sold in countries such as North America and Europe, a large number of workers are required to convey the items by sea and then across land.
  3. Because it is the most essential determinant in determining economic well-being in a consumerist culture, the development of new jobs is critical.
  4. The second good aspect of consumerism is that it is typically advantageous to companies and may result in a significant accumulation of wealth for the owners of such enterprises.
  5. Manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of this sort of merchandise operate around the world, with their manufacture, distribution, and sales taking place in a variety of locations.
  6. Apple, Walmart, Nike, and other companies are instances of this.
  7. It has established a structure that encourages the expansion of enterprises, which, in turn, has the potential to generate employment and income for the rest of society.
  8. However, while consumerism has aided in the growth of businesses, it has also resulted in increased rivalry between the many enterprises as they battle for sales in the economy.
  9. The concept of laissez-faire capitalism, which arose around the time of the Industrial Revolution, established the notion that individuals and firms should compete against one another and that their success should be determined by the forces of supply and demand in the marketplace.
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Laissez-faire capitalists argued that competition was beneficial to society in a variety of ways, including: lowering the price of goods and services as producers competed for the business of consumers, and encouraging innovation in goods and services as companies competed to outdo one another in a variety of ways.

Linked to the preceding point, the creation of a broad range of goods and services was facilitated by a competitive market environment that encouraged continual innovation among businesses.

Because corporations were in a state of perpetual competition with one another, they were forced to constantly seek for new ideas for their goods.

This has undoubtedly benefited people’s lives today in a multitude of ways, including their level of living, which is debatable.

When compared to people with lower living standards, people with higher living standards often have the opportunity to purchase a wider variety of products and services, while people with lower living standards generally don’t.

They profit not just from having access to luxury products (such as phones, gadgets, and home items), but they also benefit from the consumerist influences on services such as healthcare and education that occur in these nations.

The third argument to make about the benefits of consumerism is that it typically improves the overall quality of people’s lives.

As previously said, consumerism is critical in assisting individuals in meeting their requirements.

Consumption has made many people’s life better by assisting them in meeting their basic requirements.

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