Steiner and Steiner
RESPONSE TO CHAPTER 16 CONSUMERISM
While reading Chapter 16 of our text, I began to question the authors' biases, doubt the accuracy and thoroughness of their statements and suspect the veracity of the premises they asserted. After reading this section, I came away wanting to probe my reactions further by clarifying the source of my uneasiness.
The authors begin by describing the work of Harvey W. Wiley, MD related to testing food products for safety. Wiley's experiments, known as the "poison squad," seemed particularly troublesome, in light of a guiding principle for physicians known as "first, do no harm." Wiley was aware that his experiments (feeding subjects increasing amounts of borax, formaldehyde, etc) would definitely harm the volunteers. The authors' use of this example, while graphic and evocative, seems to present the kind of example that documentarian Michael Moore would use. It illustrates their point but does not provide a truly balanced perspective of the events described. Perhaps the authors could have included updated information about the rigorous standards in place today for human experimentation and informed consent. A discussion of this nature would have provided further evidence of the evolution of consumer protections that this chapter addresses.
In the section titled "Consumerism as an Ideology," the authors stress that transitioning to a society where the cultural importance of acquiring material goods increased, and it took influence and energy away from religion as a central focus of peoples lives. They state, "The world of human relationships assumed greater importance and consumers could focus on material things with less guilt." The authors place this transition in the 1600's during the Age of Enlightenment in Western civilizations. Wasn't this period also the Age of Reason and the beginnings of the Scientific Revolution ... [continues]
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