The "Industrial Revolution dramatically increased the availability of consumer goods, although it was still primarily focused on the capital goods sector and industrial infrastructure (i.e., mining, steel, oil, transportation networks, communications networks, industrial cities, financial centers, etc.). The advent of the "department store represented a paradigm shift in the experience of shopping. For the first time, customers could buy an astonishing variety of goods, all in one place, and shopping became a popular leisure activity. While previously the norm had been the scarcity of resources, the "Industrial era created an unprecedented economic situation. For the first time in history products were available in outstanding quantities, at outstandingly low prices, being thus available to virtually everyone in the industrialized West.
By the turn of the 20th century the average worker in "Western Europe or the "United States still spent approximately 80-90% of their income on food and other necessities. What was needed to propel consumerism proper, was a system of "mass production and consumption, exemplified in "Henry Ford, the American "car manufacturer. After observing the assembly lines in the meat packing industry, "Frederick Winslow Taylor brought his theory of "scientific 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.["need quotation to verify]
Consumerism has long had intentional underpinnings, rather than just developing out of capitalism. As an example, "Earnest Elmo Calkins noted to fellow "advertising 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 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. 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:
|“||It is true of dress in even a higher degree than of most other items of consumption, that people will undergo a very considerable degree of privation in the comforts or the necessaries of life in order to afford what is considered a decent amount of wasteful consumption; so that it is by no means an uncommon occurrence, in an inclement climate, for people to go ill clad in order to appear well dressed.||”|
The term "conspicuous consumption" spread to describe consumerism in the United States in the 1960s, but was soon linked to debates about "media theory, "culture jamming, and its corollary "productivism.
|“||By 1920 most people [Americans] had experimented with occasional installment buying.||”|
In the 21st century
Madeline Levine 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". A consumer can have the "instant gratification 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.
Cultural capital, the intangible social value of goods, is not solely generated by the upper class. 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. These items develop a function and meaning that differs from their corporate producer's intent. 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. When corporate America recognized the growing popularity of Doc Martens they underwent another change in cultural meaning through counter-bricolage. 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.
||This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's "neutral point of view of the subject. (July 2011)|
Since consumerism began, various individuals and groups have consciously sought an alternative lifestyle. These movements range on a spectrum from moderate ""simple living", ""eco-conscious shopping", and ""localvore"/""buying local", to "Freeganism on the extreme end. Building on these movements, "ecological economics is a discipline which addresses the macro-economic, social and ecological implications of a primarily consumer-driven economy.
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 names and perceived "status-symbolism appeal, e.g. a "luxury car, "designer clothing, or expensive "jewelry. 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 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 point out that consumerist societies are more prone to damage the environment, contribute to "global warming 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 stated:
|“||Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate.||”|
Critics of consumerism include "Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 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".
In an opinion segment of "New Scientist magazine published in August 2009, 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 ... 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, 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.
Furthermore, some theorists are concerned 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. For example, people often identify as PC or Mac users, or define themselves as a Coke drinker rather than Pepsi. The ability to choose one product out 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. By owning a product from a certain brand, one's ownership becomes a vehicle of presenting an identity that is associated with the attitude of the brand. 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. Likewise, other ecological economists such as "Herman Daly and "Tim Jackson recognize the inherent conflict between consumer-driven consumption and planet-wide ecological degradation.
Consumerism as cultural ideology
In the 21st century's globalized economy, consumerism has become a noticeable part of the culture. Critics of the phenomenon not only criticized it against what is not environmentally sustainable, but also the spread of consumerism in cultural aspects. Leslie Sklair proposes the criticism through the idea of culture-ideology of consumerism in his works. He says that,
|“||First, capitalism entered a qualitatively new globalizing phase in the 1950s. 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. […] Second, the technical and social relations that structured the mass media all over the world made it very easy for new consumerist lifestyles to become the dominant motif for these media, which became in time extraordinarily efficient vehicles for the broadcasting of the culture-ideology of consumerism globally.||”|
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. "Shopping centers are a representative example of a place where people are explicitly exposed to an environment that welcomes and encourages consumption. 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.
- "Anthropological theories of value
- "Bourgeois personality
- "Commodity fetishism
- "Consumer Bill of Rights
- "Consumer capitalism
- "Consumer ethnocentrism
- "Cost the limit of price
- "Geoffrey Miller (psychologist)
- "Homo consumericus
- "Horace Kallen philosopher
- "Hypermobility (travel)
- ""Keeping up with the Joneses"
- "Life spans of home appliances
- "Moonlight clan
- "Participatory culture
- "Philosophy of futility
- "Planned obsolescence
- "Planetary boundaries
- "Post-materialism (economics)
- "Sharing economy
- "Steady state economy
- "The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
- "The Century of the Self
- "American Psycho
- "One-Dimensional Man
- History of American Consumerism: 
- "Veblen, Thorstein (1899): "The Theory of the Leisure Class: an economic study of institutions, Dover Publications, Mineola, N.Y., 1994, "ISBN 0-486-28062-4. (also available: Project Gutenberg e-text)
- consumerism, "answers.com
- "Consumerism". Britannica Concise Encyclopedia Online. 2008.
- "James, Paul; Szeman, Imre (2010). Globalization and Culture, Vol. 3: Global-Local Consumption. London: Sage Publications. p. x.
- Swagler, Roger (1997). "Modern Consumerism". In "Brobeck, Stephen. "Encyclopedia of the Consumer Movement. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio. pp. 172–173. "ISBN "0874369878., which is based on Swagler, R. (1994). "Evolution and Applications of the Term Consumerism: Theme and Variations". Journal of Consumer Affairs. 28 (2): 347–360. "doi:10.1111/j.1745-6606.1994.tb00856.x.
- Barber, Benjamin R. (Spring 2008). "Shrunken Sovereign: Consumerism, Globalization, and American Emptiness". "World Affairs. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- Eriksson, Kai (20 November 2012). "On self-service democracy: Configurations of individualizing governance and self-directed citizenship". European Journal of Social Theory. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
- "Consumerism Label Urged". Independent Press-Telegram. 1955-01-23.
- Caldwell, Bruce J. (1990). Carl Menger and His Legacy in Economics. Duke University Press.
- Glickman, Lawrence B. (2012). Buying power : a history of consumer activism in America (Paperback ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 265. "ISBN "978-0226298672.
- Ewen, Stuart (2001) . Captains of Consciousness. Basic Books.
- Ewen, Stuart (2000) . Channels of Desire. University of Minnesota.
- Lears, Jackson (1994). Fables of Abundance.
- Ewen, Stuart (2000). PR! The Social History of Spin.
- Peck, Linda, Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England, Cambridge Press, 2005
- "Coming to live in a consumer society" (PDF).
- Ryan in Ritzer 2007, p. 701
- Ryan in Ritzer 2007, p. 702
- "Essay - Dawn of the Dead Mall". The Design Observer Group. 11 November 2009. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
- Veblen, Thorstein (2010). The Theory of the Leisure Class.
- Calder, Lendol Glen (1990). Financing the American Dream: A Cultural History of Consumer Credit. Princeton, NJ: "Princeton University Press. p. 222. "ISBN "0-691-05827-X.
- Levine, Madeline. "Challenging the Culture of Affluence". Independent School. 67.1 (2007): 28-36. Archived 27 September 2011 at the "Wayback Machine.
- Miller, Eric. Attracting the Affluent. Naperville, Illinois: Financial Sourcebooks, 1990.
- Sturken, Marita and Cartwright, Lisa. "Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture". Oxford UP, 2001, p.78
- Sturken, Marita and Cartwright, Lisa. "Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture". Oxford UP, 2001, p. 79
- See for example: Janet Luhrs's The Simple Living Guide (NY: Broadway Books, 1997); Joe Dominquez, Vicki Robin et al., Your Money or Your Life (NY: Penguin Group USA, 2008)
- See for example: Alan Durning, How Much is Enough: The Consumer Society and the Future of the Earth (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992)
- See for example: Paul Roberts, The End of Food (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008); Michael Shuman, The Small-mart Revolution (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2007)
- Eisingerich, Andreas B.; Bhardwaj, Gunjan; Miyamoto, Yoshio (April 2010). "Behold the Extreme Consumers and Learn to Embrace Them". Harvard Business Review. 88: Pages 30–31.
- "Fool Britannia". Newindpress.com. Archived from the original on 14 April 2008.
- Global Climate Change and Energy CO2 Production—An International Perspective Archived 28 February 2009 at the "Wayback Machine.
- Majfud, Jorge (2009). "The Pandemic of Consumerism". UN Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- Lebow, Victor. http://hundredgoals.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/journal-of-retailing.pdf
- Web log. 17 July 2008. http://babs22.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/australia-pope-attacks-consumerism/
- Stearns, Peter. Consumerism in World History. Routledge
- Coghlan, Andy. "Consumerism is 'eating the future'". Retrieved 2009-12-12.
- Sturken, Marita and Cartwright, Lisa. "Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture". Oxford UP, 2001, p. 279
- "Consumerism - Big Ideas". Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "James, Paul; Scerri, Andy (2012). "Globalizing Consumption and the Deferral of a Politics of Consequence". Globalizations. 9 (2): 225–240.
- Sklair, L. 2012. Culture-Ideology of Consumerism. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization
- Leslie Sklair, from Chapter 5 of Globalization: Capitalism and Its Alternatives, 3rd edn, Oxford University Press, 2002. Reprinted with permission of Oxford University Press
- Jon Goss(1993), The "Magic of the Mall": An Analysis of Form, Function, and Meaning in the Contemporary Retail Built Environment, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 83, No. 1. (Mar., 1993), pp. 18-47
Ryan, Michael T. (2007) "consumption" in George Ritzer (ed.) The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, Blackwell Publishing, 2007, 701-705
|""||Wikiquote has quotations related to: Consumerism|
|""||Look up consumerism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- AdBusters, an anti-consumerism magazine
- "Consumer Culture", by Ginny Wilmerding.
- Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, a post-consumerist macro-economic framework
- Circles of Sustainability - website for the "Circles of Sustainability approach
- Consumerium Development Wiki, a wiki related to consumer activism
- "Consumers may not realize the full impact of their choices"
- A Global Consumer Solidarity Movement
- Global-local consumption, by Imre Szeman and Paul James
- "Globalizing consumption" by Paul James and Andy Scerri
- "Obedience, Consumerism, and Climate Change", by Yosef Brody
- Postconsumers, moving beyond addictive consumerism
- Renegade Consumer, an actively anti-consumerism organization