It’s why grown men are seen fist-fighting over a television set. It’s why hundreds of people stand outside storefronts for days on end, anxiously awaiting the release of a new iPhone or pair of sneakers. Now, more than ever, Americans have become immersed in the culture of materialism and mass consumerism. We spend so much time on an endless hunt to satisfy our desires, buying goods in hopes to fill voids in our lives or to elevate our social status. However, with startling effects on the mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of Americans, mass consumerism has proven to become a prevalent issue in today’s society; as it has ultimately aggravated some of our pre-existing societal issues.
Knowing what consumer culture is, and the various ways it presents itself in everyday life allows for a more concious approach towards the issue.
So, what exactly is consumer culture? According to the University of Wyoming, consumer culture is a “social arrangement in which the relations between the [lived cultural experience of everyday life] and social resources, between meaningful [valued] ways of life and the symbolic and material resources on which they depend, is mediated through markets.”
Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly exposed to consumer culture. From TV commericials to endorsements by our favorite social media influencers, we are continuosly confronted by advertisements that often cause us to reconsider our individuality. According to digital marketing experts of Red Crow Marketing, most Americans are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements a day. Now that’s a lot of ads.
This emphasis in American consumerism can be traced back to World War II. Following the war, America saw a boom in consumerism. The items people most desired included televisions, cars, washing machines, refrigerators, toasters, and vacuum cleaners: the machines that would help them modernize their lives.
During this time, people were eager to spend money due to lack of consumer goods during the war, more jobs, and higher wages. After World War II, buying goods was more than just about fulfilling materialistic desires, it was a way of life that was deemed as patriotic, as contributing to the the overall success of the American dream. According...