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Mass Consumer Culture

  • November 2008
  • 2597 Words
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Culture and Consumption

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy you a
big yacht so you can pull right up next to it.
--David Lee Roth

The 21st century has brought many alterations to the fabric of society that we live in as Americans today. Debates have been raging on about the current state of our economy with the housing slump, credit woes and rising oil prices. Along side that there has been a movement gaining much momentum whose main goal is to make us more responsible consumers. This global ‘green’ movement as many have dubbed it tends to indicate a paradigm shift on the grandest scale. Governmental reform, consumer and political activism have all opened the door to a vast amount of information and opinion that we have not only been subject to for the first time but also seem to be having an ever-greater impact on various levels, corporate, social and political throughout the globe.

But how any of this would tie into consumerism is a question you may find asking yourself. As our text has touched upon the subject in chapter sixteen, I believe that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of many underlying issues that must be dealt with. First and foremost, we must understand what consumerism is all about to even begin to comprehend how it affects us and how we in turn have affects upon it as a philosophy. Our textbook defines consumerism as a term denoting two main themes: (1) a movement to promote the rights and powers of consumers in relation to sellers and (2) a powerful ideology in which the pursuit of material goods beyond subsistence shapes social conduct. The latter of the two definitions that we are provided with will be the main thesis I will explore.

“Consumption is always and everywhere a cultural process, but ‘consumer culture’-a culture of consumption is unique and specific: it is the dominant mode of cultural reproduction developed in the west over the course of modernity” (Slater 7). While studying consumerist tendencies in...

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