Materialism and Post Materialism

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Philosophy & Ethics 620 |
Materialism, Postmaterialism and Asian perspectives|
Assessment 2|
Matthew Warren 15166913|
2/20/2011|
|

Contents

TitlePage
Introduction................................................................................................................................3
Part 1: Materialism and Postmaterialism in a western Capitalist Rational Economic Context...........3 Part 2: Asian Culture – China........................................................................................................7

Part 3: A New Business Theory....................................................................................................10
Conclusion................................................................................................................................. 15
References.................................................................................................................................16

Introduction
With the juggernaut that was the industrial revolution coming to a rest over half a century ago, the marks it left on the landscape have left a deep rooted legacy, especially in today’s Western contemporary society. Scientific management, rationality and capitalism were all nurtured throughout this century long journey that the industrial revolution took. They remain today, as strong as ever, fuelled nowadays by the economists’ way of thinking. For example, Taeusch (1935, 224) stated “Capitalism in this sense, becomes an idealistic economic construct, hovering over the world of economic realities very much in the same way that “immortality” or “other-worldliness” hovered over the practical world of the Middle Ages” However, arguably today, this ‘idealistic economic construct’ ‘hovers’ over much more than the economy, but the very way we live our lives. With this in mind, how does this capitalist, rational economic thinking influence modern day Western society? Moreover, what is the impact on each and every one of us in terms of our materialist and postmaterialist values? The following paper is broken into three parts; firstly, it critically discusses the role of materialist and postmaterialist values in today’s Western society. Secondly, it reviews an Asian culture and critically looks at the roles of both materialist and postmaterialist values in the East. Finally, it looks at the possibility of conducting a business in a different way to stem the tide economic rationality and capitalism. Part One: Materialism and Postmaterialism in a western Capitalist Rational Economic Context What is materialism? Belk (1984, 291) has defined materialism as; “...reflects the importance a consumer attaches to worldly possessions. At the highest levels of materialism, such possessions assume central place in a person’s life and are believed to provide the greatest sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction in life...” In a Western business context, materialistic values embrace financial rewards, long term security and control (Giacalone and Jurkiewicz 2004). Postmaterialism however, embraces self expression, sense of community and concern over quality of life (Inglehart 1971). In addition, Braithwaite, Makkai and Pittelkow (1996) state that postmaterialists are likely to place higher value on ideas, equality of opportunities and the environment. Already it is clear that both these values are apposed and with the world’s dynamics changing, there is much is debate around the distribution of materialistic and post materialistic values in Western societies. Inglehart (1971) believes both materialistic and postmaterialistic values are at either end of a singular continuum and one would have to offer a trade-off of one kind at the expense of the other, and to have postmaterialism as value would preclude materialistic values. Inglehart (1971) went onto state there was a growing significance among industrialised nations to postmaterialistic values...
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