Consumerism Essay

953 Words Sep 18th, 2014 4 Pages
Consumerism is sometimes used in reference to the anthropological and biological phenomena of people purchasing goods and consuming materials in excess of their basic needs, which would make it recognizable in any society including ancient civilizations (e.g. Ancient Egypt, Babylon and Ancient Rome). However, the concept of consumerism is typically used to refer to the historically specific set of relations of production and exchange that emerge from the particular social, political, cultural and technological context of late 19th and early 20th century capitalism with more visible roots in the social transformations of 16th, 17th and 18th century Europe.
The consumer society emerged in the late seventeenth century and intensified
…show more content…
Although consumerism means different things to different people, including the social movement to balance interests between the consumer and the seller, this paper assumes that consumerism is the myth of the consumer culture. Consumerism is an acceptance of consumption as a way to self-development, self-realization, and self-fulfillment. In a consumer society, an individual’s identity is tied to what he or she consumes. People end up buying more than they need for basic subsistence and end up being concerned for their self-interest rather than mutual, communal or ecological interest. whatever maximizes individual happiness is best with happiness equated to accumulation of goods and use of services. Consumption was a “systematic act of the manipulation of signs” (Baudrillard, 22) that signified social status through difference.
Aristotle and Marx spoke of commodities having use-value and exchange-value. Baudrillard maintained commodities have the status of “sign” value as well. He challenged the need-objects-satisfaction theory, asserted that it was merely an astonishing repetition of the saying: “I buy it because I need it”. To him, “the world of objects and of needs would thus be a world of general hysteria” (Baudrillard, 68), and therefore, in the consumer society, we did not consume because of its use value, but for its sign value. What’s more, his “sign value” was arbitrary. That was to say, the sign value of

Related Documents