Consumerism has been one of the fastest growing cultures in America. Many Americans have found them purchasing for goods and services that are not necessary and which they can live without. Despite the knowledge of the idea that people do not need these goods and items, many Americans have found it difficult to separate themselves from the culture of consumerism. Many people for example continue to purchasing clothing yet their closets are full of clothes that still have price tags on them. This paper seeks to look at American values and behaviors using consumerism as the key focus.
First of all, it is important to understand that the United States has one of the largest middle class compared to other nations of the world. The expansion of the united States’ middle class is fosters by the fact that many people in the United States have the ability to access education and middle class occupations. The expanding middle class means that many people in the United States have the purchasing power to buy various basic wants and needs; a privilege that is not enjoyed by many people in the developing nations. This has created a competitive society where every individual seeks to get what their neighbor or friends possesses. The idea of ‘keeping up with the joneses’ has been instrumental in causing many families in the United States to value the idea of benchmarking with their friends and neighbors so that they are not left behind in terms of fashion, possession, and other social values(Matts, 2003, p.58).
The culture of consumerism in the United States has also been fostered by the idea that the American economy has over the years shifted from production to consumerism. This is because as a result of demand for higher wages and higher taxation for corporate entities many companies have relocated abroad. This means that the growth of the American economy is no longer dependent of production of goods and services. Instead, the American society is dependent on the ability of the country’s population to consume. Economists have referred to this line of economics as Keynesian economics. The more the American population is able to consume, the more the American economy is able to grow (Shannon, 2012, p.7). The satire of this economic model in the United States is that many Americans do not have their own money that they can use in the process of consumption. However, banks and other financial institutions have been instrumental in extending lines of credit to the American population so that the American population can be able to consume goods and services despite of the fact that they do not have their own money to do so. The downside of this consumerist culture in the United States is the fact that many families in the United States continue to wrestle with cases of debt because they are sometimes unable to repay the debts that they owe their credit companies.
In addition, this consumerist culture in the United States has been criticized for the environmental impacts that it possesses on the United States. This is because as the American population continues to consume goods and services more and more resources are exploited from the environment (Miles, 1998, p.43). This culture of consumerism is not sustainable in the long run because it does not take into account the welfare of future generations who may need the same resources for survival. Therefore, consumerism culture is a major part of the American socio-economic values and behavior. This culture is fostered by the growing purchasing power of the American middle class, and Keynesian economics that characterizes the American economy today.
Matt, S. J. (2003). Keeping up with the Joneses: envy in American consumer society, 1890-1930. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.p57-59
Miles, S. (1998). Consumerism: as a way of life. London: Sage Publications.p41-44
Shannon, J. (2012). Keynesian Economics, the Cancer in America. Bloomington, IN: Author House Inc.p5-10