What is Consumerism?
Have you ever saved up for something that you really want to have? For example, have you ever had a pair of dream shoes? We may not notice it, but we cannot deny that we feel a sense of happiness after buying goods or services. This is the central concept of consumerism. It says that increased consumption of goods and services purchased in the market is the constant goal. Also, a person’s well-being and happiness fundamentally depend on having those consumer goods and material possessions.
Keynesian economics and consumerism
Have you heard of Keynesian Economics? Is this familiar to you? It may be because it is somehow related. It is a theory coined by John Maynard Keynes which says that consumer spending plays a significant role in stimulating the economy. He said that consumers should be encouraged to spend — it should be the primary goal. Others might disagree that a person’s happiness and well-being depend on obtaining goods and services. However, if we look at it from the Keynesian angle, consumerism is a good thing for the economy.
Tell me more about consumerism.
People may tend to live in a capitalist economy and get used to a lifestyle of massive materialism. This focuses on unnecessary and conspicuous overconsumption. This is the main idea of consumerism. Many people think that this plays a significant role in the deterioration of the ways of life and traditional values. Aside from that, consumerism is also one of the culprits why business giants exploit consumers, the environment collapses, and people get negative psychological thoughts and effects.
Consumerism and history
In the 19th century, Thorstein Veblen wrote a book that started the term conspicuous consumption. Veblen is an economist and a sociologist who said that conspicuous consumption is when people want to show their social status. They deliberately show everyone that the goods and services they buy are way too expensive for the lower classes of society. Hence, this consumption is more for the wealthy, although it can also be applied to the economic class.
People ridiculed consumerism after the Great Depression. Later on, the US economy started to get better after World War II. The war ended, and prosperity succeeded. In the mid-20th century, people accepted consumerism more. They thought that it emphasized all the advantages that they could get from capitalism regarding living standards. Also, they thought this was an economic policy that was in the best interest of consumers.
Is it right to overspend?
Economists think spending benefits consumers if we talk about the utility of the consumer goods they buy. It mutually helps businesses since selling and earning was their primary goal from the start. It’s like a cycle. Let us say that one person buys spaghetti from a restaurant. It’s not only the restaurant that earns. It’s also the chef, waitresses, managers, and staff. Aside from them, the companies involved in making the pasta, oil, sauce, and any other ingredients earned in a way. Hence, spending is also helpful to the consumer because it benefits the economy as a whole. This is why businesses and economists try to boost consumer spending since it massively contributes to economic growth.
On the other hand, many criticize too much spending because it can make people materialistic, and they can lose their values along the way. Traditional production and even the ways of life can be altered if people spend more and more goods and services in bulk.