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I Hate Myself and Want to Buy.docx

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Simon Fraser University
CMNS 110
Gary Mc Carron

I Hate Myself and Want to Buy  anti-consumerism is one of the most important cultural forces in millennial North American life, across every class and demographic  how can we all denounce consumerism yet still find ourselves living in a consumer society? o we don’t actually critique consumerism; its a restatement of the critique of mass society  the critique of mass society has been one of the most powerful forces driving consumerism for the past 40 years  anti-consumerism doesn’t undermine consumerism; they reinforce it  they’ve failed to understand the true nature of consumer society o identify consumerism with conformity o fail to notice that it is rebellion, not conformity, that has been the driving force of the marketplace  counter-culture theorists like to think that their rebellion is a reaction to the evils of consumer society o what if counterculture rebellion was a contributing factor?  people in wealthy industrialized society are on average happier than poor ones o greater wealth comes a greater ability to meet needs and desires  economic development has been shown to generate a steady increase in average happiness levels, but after a certain level of development has been reached the effects disappear completely  the middle class continue to feel squeezed economically o people are working harder, under more stress, less free time  some people question the value of economic growth altogether o serious sacrifices in order to keep a high growth rate o but growth isn’t making us happier  people spend their money on private consumption goods o something pathological about consumption habits o obsessed with acquiring more even though this leads to unreasonable sacrifices  is social criticism really a criticism or rather a piece of modern mythology  most adults like spending their money on things that help them stand out o goods that offer distinction  competitive consumption that creates the problem, not conformity o the desire to conform fails to explain the compulsive character of consumer behaviour  its the non-conformists not the conformists that drive consumer spending  why modern consumer society fails to produce any happiness is because the needs that it satisfies are simply a function (induced by the individual) by the internal logic of the system o there are only needs because the system needs them  who is to say what is useful and what is not, which needs are genuine and which are false? o simply saying that all needs are ideological doesn’t help  intellectuals have a natural bias against consumer goods in general because they are people that are more engaged and stimulated by ideas rather than goods  consumerism always seems to be a critique of what other people buy o difficult to avoid impression the critique isn’t just snobbery o traditionally rich are self sufficient in material needs and the material world is regarded as a realm of corruption and sin  according to Marx, capitalism suffers from periodic crises of overproduction o the factory owner constantly tries to lower prices by introducing techniques of mass production o mass production increases the supply of goods but also decreases the income of workers which decreases demand  results in a crisis of over production  Marx thought that the tendency toward overproduction was responsible for the business cycle o after the second world war though there was almost two decades of uninterrupted growth  one answer is the advertising was introduced to solve the problem of overproduction  transform the worker into a consumer  get rid of excess goods by tricking workers into wanting more and more  the goods produced are all homogeneous, so the desires created must be homogeneous too  consumerism must be a system of rigid conformity o cant tolerate deviation from the norm because the homogenized needs are what takes care of the excess product from mass production  non standard acts of consumption come to be seen as politically radical o the rebel consumer  no such thing as general
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