Economic materialism

This article addresses materialism in the economic sense of the word. For information on the philosophical and scientific meanings, see materialism.

Materialism is a personal attitude which attaches importance to acquiring and consuming material goods.

The use of the term materialistic tends to describe a person's personality or a society tends to have a negative or critical connotation. Also called acquisitiveness, it is often associated with a value system which regards social status as being determined by affluence (see conspicuous consumption), as well as the belief that possessions can provide happiness. Environmentalism can be considered a competing orientation to materialism.[1]

Materialism can be considered a pragmatic form of enlightened self-interest based on a prudent understanding of the character of market-oriented economy and society.

Definition

Consumer research typically looks at materialism in two ways: one as a collection of personality traits;[2] and the other as an enduring belief or value.[3]

Materialism as a personality trait

Russell W. Belk conceptualizes materialism to include three original personality traits.[2]

  • Nongenerosity – an unwillingness to give or share possession with others.
  • Envy – desire for other people's possessions.
  • Possessiveness – concern about loss of possessions and a desire for the greater control of ownership.

Materialism as a value

Acquisition centrality is when acquiring material possession functions as a central life goal with the belief that possessions are the key to happiness and that success can be judged by a person's material wealth and the quality and price of material goods she or he can buy.[4]

Growing materialism in the western world

In the western world, there is a growing trend of increasing materialism in reaction to discontent.[5] Research conducted in the United States shows that recent generations are focusing more on money, image, and fame than ever before, especially since the generations of Baby Boomers and Generation X.[6]

In one survey of Americans, over 7% said they would murder someone for $3 million and 65% of respondents said they would spend a year on a deserted island to earn $1 million.[7]

A survey conducted by the University of California and the American Council on Education on 250,000 new college students found that their main reason for attending college was to gain material wealth. From the 1970s to the late 1990s, the percentage of students who stated that their main reason for going to college was to develop a meaningful life philosophy dropped from more than 80% to about 40%, while the purpose of obtaining financial gain rose from about 40% to more than 75%.[8]

Materialism and happiness

A series of studies have observed a correlation between materialism and unhappiness.[9][10] Studies in the United States have found that an increase in material wealth and goods in the country has had little to no effect on the well-being and happiness of its citizens.[11][12] Tibor Scitovsky called this a "joyless economy" in which people endlessly pursue comforts to the detriments of pleasures.[13]

Using two measures of subjective well-being, one study found that materialism was negatively related to happiness, meaning that people who tended to be more materialistic were also less happy.[14] When people derive a lot of pleasure from buying things and believe that acquiring material possessions are important life goals, they tend to have lower life satisfaction scores.[3] Materialism also positively correlates with more serious psychological issues like depression, narcissism and paranoia.[15]

However, the relationship between materialism and happiness is more complex. The direction of the relationship can go both ways. Individual materialism can cause diminished well-being or lower levels of well-being can cause people to be more materialistic in an effort to get external gratification.[16]

Instead, research shows that purchases made with the intention of acquiring life experiences such as going on a family vacation make people happier than purchases made to acquire material possessions such as an expensive car. Even just thinking about experiential purchases makes people happier than thinking about material ones.[17]

See also

References

  1. ^ Banerjee, Bobby; McKeage, Kim (1994). "How Green Is My Value: Exploring the Relationship Between Environmentalism and Materialism". Advances in Consumer Research. 21: 147–152. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b Belk, Russell W. (1985). "Materialism: Trait aspects of living in the material world" (PDF). Journal of Consumer Research. 12: 265–280. doi:10.1086/208515.
  3. ^ a b Richins, Marsha L.; Dawson, S. (1992). "A consumer values orientation for materialism and its measurement: Scale development and validation". Journal of Consumer Research. 19: 303–316. doi:10.1086/209304.
  4. ^ Richins, Marsha L. (1994). "Valuing things: The public and the private meanings of possessions". Journal of Consumer Research. 21: 504–521. doi:10.1086/209414.
  5. ^ Taylor, Steve. "The Madness of Materialism: Why are we so driven to accumulate possessions and wealth?". Psychology Today. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015.
  6. ^ Twenge, Jean M.; Campbell, W. Keith; Freeman, Elise C. (2012). "Generational differences in young adults' life goals, concern for others, and civic orientation 1966-2009" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 102 (5): 1045–1062. doi:10.1037/a0027408. PMID 22390226. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 March 2016.
  7. ^ Kanner, Bernice (2001). Are You Normal about Money?. Princeton, NJ: Bloomberg Press. ISBN 9781576600870.
  8. ^ Myers, David G. (2000). "The funds, friends, and faith of happy people" (PDF). American Psychologist. 55 (1): 56–67. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.55.1.56. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2016.
  9. ^ Lyubomirsky, Sonja (August 10, 2010). "Can money buy happiness?". Scientific American. Archived from the original on 10 August 2013.
  10. ^ Mobiot, George (10 December 2013). "Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016.
  11. ^ Frank, Robert H. (1999). "Luxury fever: When money fails to satisfy in an era of excess". New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-2340-3.
  12. ^ Easterlin, Richard A. (1995). "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?" (PDF). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. 27: 35–47. doi:10.1016/0167-2681(95)00003-b. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2016.
  13. ^ Scitovsky, Tibor (1976). The joyless economy: The psychology of human satisfaction. New York: Oxford University Press.
  14. ^ Belk, Russell W. (1984). "Three scales to measure constructs related to materialism: reliability, validity, and relationships to measure of happiness". Advances in Consumer Research. 11: 291–297.
  15. ^ Kasser, Tim; Ryan, Richard M. (1993). "A dark side of the American dream: Correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 22: 280–287. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2016.
  16. ^ Van Boven, Leaf; Gilovich, Tom (June 2005). "The social costs of materialism". Review of General Psychology. 9 (2): 132–142. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.132.
  17. ^ Van Boven, Leaf (2005). "Experientialism, materialism, and the pursuit of happiness" (PDF). Review of General Psychology. 9 (2): 132–142. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.132. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 May 2016.
Affluenza

Affluenza, a portmanteau of affluence and influenza, is a term used by critics of consumerism. It is thought to have been first used in 1954, but it was popularised in 1997 with a PBS documentary of the same name and the subsequent book Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic (2001, revised in 2005, 2014). These works define affluenza as "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more". The term "affluenza" has also been used to refer to an inability to understand the consequences of one's actions because of financial privilege, such as in the case of Ethan Couch.

Allen Ginsberg

Irwin Allen Ginsberg (; June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet, philosopher and writer. He is considered to be one of the leading figures of both the Beat Generation during the 1950s and the counterculture that soon followed. He vigorously opposed militarism, economic materialism and sexual repression and was known as embodying various aspects of this counterculture, such as his views on drugs, hostility to bureaucracy and openness to Eastern religions. He was one of many influential American writers of his time known as the Beat Generation, which included famous writers such as Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

Ginsberg is best known for his poem "Howl", in which he denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States. In 1956, "Howl" was seized by San Francisco police and US Customs. In 1957, it attracted widespread publicity when it became the subject of an obscenity trial, as it described heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when sodomy laws made homosexual acts a crime in every U.S. state. "Howl" reflected Ginsberg's own homosexuality and his relationships with a number of men, including Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong partner. Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that "Howl" was not obscene, adding, "Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemisms?"Ginsberg was a practicing Buddhist who studied Eastern religious disciplines extensively. He lived modestly, buying his clothing in second-hand stores and residing in downscale apartments in New York's East Village. One of his most influential teachers was the Tibetan Buddhist Chögyam Trungpa, the founder of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. At Trungpa's urging, Ginsberg and poet Anne Waldman started The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics there in 1974.Ginsberg took part in decades of non-violent political protest against everything from the Vietnam War to the War on Drugs. His poem "September on Jessore Road", calling attention to the plight of Bangladeshi refugees, exemplifies what the literary critic Helen Vendler described as Ginsberg's tireless persistence in protesting against "imperial politics, and persecution of the powerless."His collection The Fall of America shared the annual U.S. National Book Award for Poetry in 1974. In 1979 he received the National Arts Club gold medal and was inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Ginsberg was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1995 for his book Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986–1992.

Alternative culture

Alternative culture is a type of culture that exists outside or on the fringes of mainstream or popular culture, usually under the domain of one or more subcultures. These subcultures may have little or nothing in common besides their relative obscurity, but cultural studies uses this common basis of obscurity to classify them as alternative cultures, or, taken as a whole, the alternative culture. Compare with the more politically charged term, counterculture.

Anti-consumerism

Anti-consumerism is a sociopolitical ideology that is opposed to consumerism, the continual buying and consuming of material possessions. Anti-consumerism is concerned with the private actions of business corporations in pursuit of financial and economic goals at the expense of the public welfare, especially in matters of environmental protection, social stratification, and ethics in the governing of a society. In politics, anti-consumerism overlaps with environmental activism, anti-globalization, and animal-rights activism; moreover, a conceptual variation of anti-consumerism is post-consumerism, living in a material way that transcends consumerism.Anti-consumerism arose in response to the problems caused by the long-term mistreatment of human consumers and of the animals consumed, and from the incorporation of consumer education to school curricula; examples of anti-consumerism are the book No Logo (2000) by Naomi Klein, and documentary films such as The Corporation (2003), by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, and Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers (2003), by Erik Gandini; each made anti-corporate activism popular as an ideologically accessible form of civil and political action.

The criticism of economic materialism as a dehumanizing behaviour that is destructive of the Earth, as human habitat, comes from religion and social activism. The religious criticism asserts that materialist consumerism interferes with the connection between the individual and God, and so is an inherently immoral style of life; thus the German historian Oswald Spengler (1880–1936) said that "Life in America is exclusively economic in structure, and lacks depth." From the Roman Catholic perspective, Thomas Aquinas said that "Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things"; in that vein, Francis of Assisi, Ammon Hennacy, and Mohandas Gandhi said that spiritual inspiration guided them towards simple living.

From the secular perspective, social activism indicates that from consumerist materialism derive crime (which originates from the poverty of economic inequality), industrial pollution and the consequent environmental degradation, and war as a business. About the societal discontent born of malaise and hedonism, Pope Benedict XVI said that the philosophy of materialism offers no raison d'être for human existence; likewise, the writer Georges Duhamel said that "American materialism [is] a beacon of mediocrity that threatened to eclipse French civilization".

Birkin bag

The Birkin bag is a personal accessory of luggage or a tote by Hermès that is handmade in leather and named after actress and singer Jane Birkin. The bag is currently in fashion as a symbol of wealth due to its high price and use by celebrities. Birkins are the most popular bag with handbag collectors, and Victoria Beckham owns over 100 of them.Its prices range from US$11,900 to $300,000. Costs escalate according to the type of leather and if exotic skins were used. The bags are distributed to Hermès boutiques on unpredictable schedules and in limited quantities, creating artificial scarcity and exclusivity. Small versions (25 cm) may be considered a handbag or purse.

Bourgeoisie

The bourgeoisie (; French: [buʁʒwazi]) is a polysemous French term that can mean:

a sociologically defined class, especially in contemporary times, referring to people with a certain cultural and financial capital belonging to the middle or upper middle class: the upper (haute), middle (moyenne), and petty (petite) bourgeoisie (which are collectively designated "the bourgeoisie"); an affluent and often opulent stratum of the middle class who stand opposite the proletariat class.

originally and generally, "those who live in the borough", that is to say, the people of the city (including merchants and craftsmen), as opposed to those of rural areas; in this sense, the bourgeoisie began to grow in Europe from the 11th century and particularly during the Renaissance of the 12th century (i.e., the onset of the High Middle Ages), with the first developments of rural exodus and urbanization.

a legally defined class of the Middle Ages to the end of the Ancien Régime (Old Regime) in France, that of inhabitants having the rights of citizenship and political rights in a city (comparable to the German term Bürgertum and Bürger; see also "Burgher").The "bourgeoisie" in its original sense is intimately linked to the existence of cities recognized as such by their urban charters (e.g. municipal charter, town privileges, German town law), so there was no bourgeoisie "outside the walls of the city" beyond which the people were "peasants" submitted to the stately courts and manorialism (except for the traveling "fair bourgeoisie" living outside urban territories, who retained their city rights and domicile).

In Marxist philosophy, the bourgeoisie is the social class that came to own the means of production during modern industrialization and whose societal concerns are the value of property and the preservation of capital to ensure the perpetuation of their economic supremacy in society.Joseph Schumpeter saw the incorporation of new elements into an expanding bourgeoisie, particularly entrepreneurs who took risks to bring innovation to industries and the economy through the process of creative destruction, as the driving force behind the capitalist engine.

Consumer capitalism

Consumer capitalism is a theoretical economic and social political condition in which consumer demand is manipulated, in a deliberate and coordinated way, on a very large scale, through mass-marketing techniques, to the advantage of sellers.

This theory is controversial. It suggests manipulation of consumer demand so potent that it has a coercive effect, amounts to a departure from free-market capitalism, and has an adverse effect on society in general. According to one source, the power of such 'manipulation' is not straightforward. It depends upon a new kind of individualism - projective individualism, where persons use consumer capitalism to project the kind of person who they want to be.Some use the phrase as shorthand for the broader idea that the interests of other non-business entities (governments, religions, the military, educational institutions) are intertwined with corporate business interests, and that those entities also participate in the management of social expectations through mass media.

Consumerism

Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. With the industrial revolution, but particularly in the 20th century, mass production led to an economic crisis: there was overproduction—the supply of goods would grow beyond consumer demand, and so manufacturers turned to planned obsolescence and advertising to manipulate consumer spending. In 1899, a book on consumerism published by Thorstein Veblen, called The Theory of the Leisure Class, examined the widespread values and economic institutions emerging along with the widespread "leisure time" in the beginning of the 20th century. In it Veblen "views the activities and spending habits of this leisure class in terms of conspicuous and vicarious consumption and waste. Both are related to the display of status and not to functionality or usefulness."In economics, consumerism may refer to economic policies which emphasise consumption. In an abstract sense, it is the consideration that the free choice of consumers should strongly orient the choice by manufacturers of what is produced and how, and therefore orient the economic organization of a society (compare producerism, especially in the British sense of the term). In this sense, consumerism expresses the idea not of "one man, one voice", but of "one dollar, one voice", which may or may not reflect the contribution of people to society.

In the almost complete absence of other sustained macro-political and social narratives—concern about global climate change notwithstanding—the pursuit of the 'good life' through practices of what is known as 'consumerism' has become one of the dominant global social forces, cutting across differences of religion, class, gender, ethnicity and nationality. It is the other side of the dominant ideology of market globalism and is central to what Manfred Steger calls the 'global imaginary'.

Downshifting (lifestyle)

The term downshifting in the English language refers to the act of reducing the gear of a motor vehicle while driving a manual transmission. This title or term has now been re purposed and applied to describe a social behavior or trend in which individuals live simpler lives to escape from what critics call the rat race.

The long-term effect of downshifting can include an escape from what has been described as economic materialism, as well as reduce the "stress and psychological expense that may accompany economic materialism". This new social trend emphasizes finding an improved balance between leisure and work, while also focusing life goals on personal fulfillment, as well as building personal relationships instead of the all-consuming pursuit of economic success.

Down-shifting, as a concept, shares many characteristics with simple living. However, it is distinguished as an alternative form by its focus on moderate change and concentration on an individual comfort level and a gradual approach to living. In the 1990s, this new form of simple living began appearing in the mainstream media, and has continually grown in popularity among populations living in industrial societies, especially the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.

Escape from Affluenza

Escape from Affluenza is a 1998 PBS 56-minute documentary film produced as a sequel to the 1997 documentary Affluenza. While the original concentrates on affluenza--consumerism and materialism in modern society, the sequel focuses on how to avoid this. It looks at stories of how to reduce debt, stress, time-pressure, and possession-overload.The cast includes Wanda Urbanska as the host and Cecile Andrews, author of "Circle of Simplicity".

Excessivism

Excessivism is an art movement which was introduced in 2015 by American artist and curator Kaloust Guedel with an exhibition titled Excessivist Initiative. A preview of the exhibition written by art critic and curator Shana Nys Dambrot, titled "Excessivism: Irony, Imbalance and a New Rococo" was published in the Huffington Post. Its early adopters go back to late 20th century.

Hyperconsumerism

Hyperconsumerism, hyper-consumerism, hyperconsumption or hyper-consumption refer to the consumption of goods for non-functional purposes and the associated significant pressure to consume those goods exerted by the modern, capitalist society, as those goods shape one's identity. Frenchy Lunning defines it curtly as "a consumerism for the sake of consuming."

Materialism (disambiguation)

Materialism or materialist may refer to:

Materialism, the view that the universe consists only of organized matter and energy

Economic materialism, the desire to accumulate material goods

Christian materialism, the combination of Christian theology with the ideas of materialism, which places a high value on material things.

Cultural materialism (anthropology), an anthropological research orientation first introduced by Marvin Harris

Cultural materialism (cultural studies), a movement in literary theory and cultural studies originating with left-wing literary critic Raymond Williams

Historical materialism, a theory of socioeconomic development most commonly associated with Marxism, where changes in material conditions (technology and productive capacity) are the primary influences on how human society is organized

Dialectical materialism, a strand of Marxism which proposes that every economic order develops internal contradictions and weaknesses that contribute to its systemic decay

Spiritual materialism, a misuse of spiritual practice which seeks to subvert spiritual experiences to inflate the sense of self or egohood (a term coined by Chögyam Trungpa).

Post-consumerism

Post-consumerism is often suggesting that there is a growing willingness to assert that well-being, as distinct from material success, is the aim of life. Post-consumerism can also be viewed as moving beyond the current model of addictive consumerism. This personal and societal strategy utilizes each individual's core values to identify the "satisfaction of enough for today." The intent and outcome of this basic strategy to date has "reached people where they are rather than simply where we are."

Productivism

Productivism or growthism is the belief that measurable productivity and growth are the purpose of human organization (e.g., work), and that "more production is necessarily good". Critiques of productivism center primarily on the limits to growth posed by a finite planet and extend into discussions of human procreation, the work ethic, and even alternative energy production.

Slow Food

Slow Food is an organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking. It was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986 and has since spread worldwide. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem. It was the first established part of the broader slow movement. Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products.

Sustainable consumption

As a compliment to analyses of production and its processes, Sustainable Consumption (SC) is the study of resource and energy use (domestic or otherwise). As the term sustainability would imply, those who study SC seek to apply the concept of “continuance”—the capacity to meet both present and future human generational needs. SC, then, would also include analyses of efficiency, infrastructure, and waste, as well as access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. It shares a number of common features with and is closely linked to the terms sustainable production and sustainable development. Sustainable consumption as part of sustainable development is a prerequisite in the worldwide struggle against sustainability challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, famines or environmental pollution.

Sustainable development as well as sustainable consumption rely on certain premises such as:

Effective use of resources, and minimisation of waste and pollution

Use of renewable resources within their capacity for renewal

Fuller product life-cycles

Intergenerational and intragenerational equity

Temporal

'Temporal' can refer to time, or to material existence and secularity, or to the temple in anatomy. Below is a list of possible uses.

The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern

The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern is a document drafted in 1973 by several evangelical faith leaders, and signed by 53 signatories. Concerned with what they saw as a diversion between Christian faith and a commitment to social justice, the Chicago Declaration was written as a call to reject racism, economic materialism, economic inequality, militarism, and sexism. Under the leadership of Ron Sider, The Chicago Declaration became the founding document for Evangelicals for Social Action, a think-tank which seeks to develop biblical solutions to social and economic problems through incubating programs that operate at the intersection of faith and social justice.

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