The term "conspicuous consumption" spread to describe consumerism in the United States in the s, but was soon linked to debates about media theory , culture jamming , and its corollary productivism. Madeline Levine and Jayvee Mauricio criticized what she saw as a large change in American culture — "a shift away from values of community , spirituality , 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".
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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. Cultural capital, the intangible social value of goods, is not solely generated by cultural pollution. Subcultures also manipulate the value and prevalence of certain commodities through the process of bricolage. Bricolage is the process by which mainstream products are adopted and transformed by subcultures. In many cases, commodities that have undergone bricolage often develop political meanings. For example, Doc Martens, originally marketed as workers boots, gained popularity with the punk movement and AIDs activism groups and became symbols of an individual's place in that social group.
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The widespread sale and marketing of Doc Martens brought the boots back into the mainstream. While corporate America reaped the ever-growing profits of the increasingly expensive boot and those modeled after its style, Doc Martens lost their original political association. Mainstream consumers used Doc Martens and similar items to create an "individualized" sense identity by appropriating statement items from subcultures they admired.
When consumerism is considered as a movement to improve rights and powers of buyers in relation to sellers, there are certain traditional rights and powers of sellers and buyers. American Dream has long been associated with consumerism. China is the world's fastest-growing consumer market. Ehrlich , "If everyone consumed resources at the US level, you will need another four or five Earths. Since consumerism began, various individuals and groups have consciously sought an alternative lifestyle.
Building on these movements, the discipline of ecological economics addresses the macro-economic, social and ecological implications of a primarily consumer-driven economy.
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In many critical contexts, consumerism is used [ by whom? 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. He discusses how consumerism won in its forms of expression.
Opponents of consumerism argue that many luxuries and unnecessary consumer-products may act as a 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 and social stratification. 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 , and are part of a general process of social control  in modern society.
Critics of consumerism often [ quantify ] point out that consumerist societies are more prone to damage the environment, to contribute to global warming and to use up resources at a higher rate than other societies.
Jorge Majfud says that "Trying to reduce environmental pollution without reducing consumerism is like combatting drug trafficking without reducing the drug addiction. In , economist Victor Lebow stated:. Critics of consumerism include Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI ,  Pope Francis ,  German historian Oswald Spengler , who said: "Life in America is exclusively economic in structure and lacks depth"  , and French writer Georges Duhamel , who held American materialism up as "a beacon of mediocrity that threatened to eclipse French civilization".
Francis Fukuyama blames consumerism for moral compromises. Another critic is James Gustave Speth. He argues that the growth imperative represents the main goal of capitalistic consumerism. In an opinion segment of New Scientist magazine published in August , reporter Andy Coghlan cited William Rees of the University of British Columbia and epidemiologist Warren Hern of the University of Colorado at Boulder saying that human beings, despite considering themselves civilized thinkers, are "subconsciously still driven by an impulse for survival, domination and expansion 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.
Furthermore, some theorists have concerns with the place commodity takes in the definition of one's self. Media theorists Straut Ewen coined the term "commodity self" to describe an identity built by the goods we consume. The ability to choose one product out of an apparent mass of others allows a person to build a sense "unique" individuality, despite the prevalence of Mac users or the nearly identical tastes of Coke and Pepsi.
The idea of individual choice is exploited by corporations that claim to sell "uniqueness" and the building blocks of an identity.
The invention of the commodity self is a driving force of consumerist societies, preying upon the deep human need to build a sense of self. Not all anti-consumerists oppose consumption in itself, but they argue against increasing the consumption of resources beyond what is environmentally sustainable.
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 -industry only serves to reinforce increasing consumption. In the 21st century's globalized economy, consumerism has become a noticeable part of the culture. However, several scholars have written about the intersection of consumer culture and the environment. Discussions of the environmental implications of consumerist ideologies in work by economists Gustave Speth  and Naomi Klein,  and consumer cultural historian Gary Cross.
He says that,. First, capitalism entered a qualitatively new globalizing phase in the s. As the electronic revolution got underway, significant changes began to occur in the productivity of capitalist factories, systems of extraction and processing of raw materials, product design, marketing and distribution of goods and services. As of today, people are exposed to mass consumerism and product placement in the media or even in their daily lives. The line between information, entertainment, and promotion of products has been blurred so people are more reformulated into consumerist behaviour.
Goss says that the shopping center designers "strive to present an alternative rationale for the shopping center's existence, manipulate shoppers' behavior through the configuration of space, and consciously design a symbolic landscape that provokes associative moods and dispositions in the shopper". The success of the consumerist cultural ideology can be witnessed all around the world. People rush to the mall to buy products and end up spending money with their credit cards , thus locking themselves into the financial system of capitalist globalization.
Ryan, Michael T. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Consumerization or Consumption economics. Economic systems. Economic theories.
Related topics. Anti-capitalism Capitalist state Consumerism Crisis theory Criticism of capitalism Cronyism Culture of capitalism Exploitation Globalization History History of theory Market economy Periodizations of capitalism Perspectives on capitalism Post-capitalism Speculation Spontaneous order Venture philanthropy.
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This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. Please integrate the section's contents into the article as a whole, or rewrite the material. July Theories and ideas. Notable works. Organizations and groups. Adbusters Crass CrimethInc. Deep Green Resistance Democracy Now! Related social movements. These leading executives will map out next steps for increased investor and corporate action on sustainability across diverse sectors of the economy.
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