Theories Of Consumerism In Young People

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Consumerism in the United States among young people, specifically below thirty years, has been a subject of research by many scholars over the years. From a sociological standpoint, consumerism has been explored by some of the most renowned sociologists such as Thorstein Veblen and Bourdieu. These two sociologists sought to understand and explain consumer behavior during their lifetime and maintained that their sociological theories regarding consumerism were bound to persist in the future. Veblen is commonly known in the marketing and economics domains with his theory regarding the leisure class whereas Bourdieu’s concepts have been used widely in contemporary America in the explanation of consumer behavior among young people. Bourdieu’s concepts …show more content…
The aristocrats who amassed great fortunes during the Gilded Age engaged in philanthropy and through financing education such as libraries (Veblen 2005). However, Veblen noted that despite their relentless efforts to finance education through philanthropy, that era failed to produce any notable academic that can be remembered through history. Veblen was immortalized for his efforts and pioneer work in investigating how consumerism and wealth interrelated in American society. Veblen theorized that expensive items often conferred a social status that most Americans desired (Douglas and Anderson 1994). For instance, a diamond ring, whereas had no productive value, had some consumerism value and its expensive nature made it a coveted item among Americans. Veblen also explored the consumerist concepts such as pecuniary emulation where people tended to emulate those of a higher social class. Also, Veblen investigated the idea of conspicuous waste and a myriad of other issues of interest regarding the American public and how they spent their …show more content…
In this allegory, Veblen underlined that the men were superior to the women and were perceived as so because they consumed what they did not produce whereas women produced what they did not consume. Veblen then translated this allegory to his time where he gave an example of luxuries that are consumed by those that do not produce them and in the process those who consume the luxuries earn status and social mileage (Douglas and Anderson 1994). Veblen gave an example of fine wine that was produced by the working class but enjoyed by the rich because the working class could not afford it. In the definition of conspicuous leisure, Veblen saw it as a way of self-devotion to a life of pleasures such as philosophy, dining, fine arts and entertainment. Veblen explained his theory with the use of two spoons whose functionality was similar but whose prices were different simply because one was handmade, desirable and expensive unlike a conventional spoon (Veblen 2005). This is regarded as the genesis of the economic term ‘Veblen goods’ used to refer to items that are perceived as desirable due to their expensive

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