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Consumerism is a social and economic order based on fostering a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts
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Consumerism is a social and economic order based on fostering a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts



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  • 1. Consumerism is a social and economic order based on fostering a desire to purchase goodsand services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms ofconsumption starting with Thorstein Veblen. Veblens subject of examination, the newlyemergent middle class arising at the turn of the twentieth century, comes to full fruition bythe end of the twentieth century through the process of globalization.[1]Sometimes, the term "consumerism" is also used to refer to the consumerists movement,consumer protection or consumer activism, which seeks to protect and inform consumers byrequiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, andimproved safety standards. In this sense it is a movement or a set of policies aimed atregulating the products, services, methods, and standards of manufacturers, sellers, andadvertisers in the interests of the buyer.[2]In economics, consumerism refers to economic policies placing emphasis on consumption. Inan abstract sense, it is the belief that the free choice of consumers should dictate theeconomic structure of a society (cf. Producerism, especially in the British sense of theterm).[3]The term "consumerism" was first used in 1915 to refer to "advocacy of the rights andinterests of consumers" (Oxford English Dictionary) but in this article the term"consumerism" refers to the sense first used in 1960, "emphasis on or preoccupation with theacquisition of consumer goods" (Oxford English Dictionary).OriginsConsumerism has weak links with the Western world, but is in fact an internationalphenomenon. People purchasing goods and consuming materials in excess of their basicneeds is as old as the first civilizations (e.g. Ancient Egypt, Babylon and Ancient Rome).A great turn in consumerism arrived just before the Industrial Revolution. In the nineteenthcentury, capitalist development and the industrial revolution were primarily focused on thecapital goods sector and industrial infrastructure (i.e., mining, steel, oil, transportationnetworks, communications networks, industrial cities, financial centers, etc.).[4]At that time, agricultural commodities, essential consumer goods, and commercial activitieshad developed to an extent, but not to the same extent as other sectors. Members of theworking classes worked long hours for low wages – as much as 16 hours per day, 6 days perweek. Little time or money was left for consumer activities.[5]In the 21st centuryBeginning in the 1990s, the most frequent reason given for attending college had changed tomaking a lot of money, outranking reasons such as becoming an authority in a field orhelping others in difficulty[citation needed]. This correlates with the rise of materialism[citationneeded] , specifically the technological aspect: the increasing prevalence of compact discplayers, digital media, personal computers, and cellular telephones. Madeline Levinecriticized what she saw as a large change in American culture – “a shift away from values ofcommunity, spirituality, and integrity, and toward competition, materialism anddisconnection.” [10]
  • 2. Businesses have realized that wealthy consumers are the most attractive targets of marketing.The upper classs tastes, lifestyles, and preferences trickle down to become the standard forall consumers. The not so wealthy consumers can “purchase something new that will speak oftheir place in the tradition of affluence”.[11] A consumer can have the instant gratification ofpurchasing an expensive item to improve social status.Emulation is also a core component of 21st century consumerism. As a general trend, regularconsumers seek to emulate those who are above them in the social hierarchy. The poor striveto imitate the wealthy and the wealthy imitate celebrities and other icons. The celebrityendorsement of products can be seen as evidence of the desire of modern consumers topurchase products partly or solely to emulate people of higher social status. This purchasingbehavior may co-exist in the mind of a consumer with an image of oneself as being anindividualist.OverviewAn anticonsumerism stencil saying "Consuming consumes you".Since consumerism began, various individuals and groups have consciously sought analternative lifestyle. These movements range on a spectrum from moderate "simpleliving",[12] "eco-conscious shopping",[13], and "localvore"/"buying local"[14], to Freeganism onthe extreme end. Building on these movements, ecological economics is a discipline whichaddresses the macro-economic, social and ecological implications of a primarily consumer-driven economy.In many critical contexts, consumerism is used to describe the tendency of people to identifystrongly with products or services they consume, especially those with commercial brandnames and perceived status-symbolism appeal, e.g. a luxury car, designer clothing, orexpensive jewelry. A culture that is permeated by consumerism can be referred to as aconsumer culture or a market culture.[15] Consumerism can take extreme forms such thatconsumers sacrifice significant time and income not only to purchase but also to activelysupport a certain firm or brand.[16]Opponents of consumerism argue that many luxuries and unnecessary consumer productsmay act as social mechanism allowing people to identify like-minded individuals through thedisplay of similar products, again utilizing aspects of status-symbolism to judgesocioeconomic status and social stratification. Some people believe relationships with aproduct or brand name are substitutes for healthy human relationships lacking in societies,and along with consumerism, create a cultural hegemony, and are part of a general process ofsocial control[17] in modern society. Other researchers argue that the struggle for symbols ofsocial distinction promoted by consumer culture creates narcissistic, hostile relations betweenindividuals, which can be criminogenic in locations where consumer products are difficult toacquire, or where individuals simply see no limit to their acquisition.[18] Critics ofconsumerism often point out that consumerist societies are more prone to damage theenvironment, contribute to global warming and use up resources at a higher rate than othersocieties.[19] Dr. Jorge Majfud says that "Trying to reduce environmental pollution withoutreducing consumerism is like combatting drug trafficking without reducing the drugaddiction."[20]
  • 3. Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology[1][2][3] and social movement regarding concerns forenvironmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as themeasure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements.Environmentalism advocates the preservation, restoration and/or improvement of the naturalenvironment, and may be referred to as a movement to control pollution.[4] For this reason,concepts such as a Land Ethic, Environmental Ethics, Biodiversity, Ecology and the Biophiliahypothesis figure predominantly. At its crux, environmentalism is an attempt to balance relationsbetween humanity and their broader organismic and biogeochemical milieu in such a way that allthe components are accorded a proper degree of respect. The exact nature of this balance iscontroversial and there are many different ways for environmental concerns to be expressed inpractice. Environmentalism and environmental concerns are often represented by the color green,[5]but this association has been appropriated by the marketing industries and is a key tactic in the artof Greenwashing.Environmentalism as a social movementEnvironmentalism denominates a social movement that seeks to influence the politicalprocess by lobbying, activism, and education in order to protect natural resources andecosystems. An environmentalist is a person who may speak out about our naturalenvironment and the sustainable management of its resources through changes in publicpolicy or individual behavior. This may include supporting practices such as informedconsumption, conservation initiatives, investment in renewable energy, improved efficienciesin the materials economy, transitioning to new accounting paradigms such as Ecologicaleconomics and renewing and revitalizing our connections with non-human life. In variousways (for example, grassroots activism and protests), environmentalists and environmentalorganizations seek to give the natural world a stronger voice in human affairs.[6]HistoryA concern for environmental protection has recurred in diverse forms, in different parts of theworld, throughout history. For example, in Europe, King Edward I of England banned theburning of sea-coal by proclamation in London in 1272, after its smoke had become aproblem.[7][8] The fuel was so common in England that this earliest of names for it wasacquired because it could be carted away from some shores by the wheelbarrow. Airpollution would continue to be a problem in England, especially later during the IndustrialRevolution, and extending into the recent past with the Great Smog of 1952.Origins of the modern environmental movementIn Europe, the Industrial Revolution gave rise to modern environmental pollution as it isgenerally understood today. The emergence of great factories and consumption of immensequantities of coal and other fossil fuels gave rise to unprecedented air pollution and the largevolume of industrial chemical discharges added to the growing load of untreated humanwaste.[9] The first large-scale, modern environmental laws came in the form of the BritishAlkali Acts, passed in 1863, to regulate the deleterious air pollution (gaseous hydrochloricacid) given off by the Leblanc process, used to produce soda ash. Environmentalism grew out
  • 4. of the amenity movement, which was a reaction to industrialization, the growth of cities, andworsening air and water pollution.Environmentalism todayEnvironmentalism has also changed to deal with new issues such as global warming andgenetic engineering. Many youth of todays society have become more aware of the state ofthe planet and are deeming themselves environmentalists. School Eco Clubs are now workingto create new ideals for the future through sustainable schools and other minor changes instudent lives like buying organic food, clothing and personal care items. In the future, manyof the jobs opening up will have environmentalist aspects.Environmental movementBefore flue-gas desulfurization was installed, the air-polluting emissions from this power plant inNew Mexico contained excessive amounts of sulfur dioxide.The environmental movement (a term that sometimes includes the conservation and greenmovements) is a diverse scientific, social, and political movement. In general terms,environmentalists advocate the sustainable management of resources, and the protection (andrestoration, when necessary) of the natural environment through changes in public policy andindividual behavior. In its recognition of humanity as a participant in ecosystems, themovement is centered around ecology, health, and human rights. Though the movement isrepresented by a range of organizations, because of the inclusion of environmentalism in theclassroom curriculum,[28][29] the environmental movement has a younger demographic than iscommon in other social movements (see green seniors).Evangelical environmentalismMain article: Evangelical environmentalismEvangelical environmentalism is an environmental movement in the United States in whichsome Evangelicals have emphasized biblical mandates concerning humanitys role as stewardand subsequent responsibility for the caretaking of Creation. While the movement hasfocused on different environmental issues, it is best known for its focus of addressing climateaction from a biblically grounded theological perspective. The Evangelical Climate Initiativeargues that human-induced climate change will have severe consequences and impact thepoor the hardest, and that Gods mandate to Adam to care for the Garden of Eden also appliesto evangelicals today, and that it is therefore a moral obligation to work to mitigate climateimpacts and support communities in adapting to change.[31][edit] Preservation and conservationEnvironmental preservation in the United States and other parts of the world, includingAustralia, is viewed as the setting aside of natural resources to prevent damage caused bycontact with humans or by certain human activities, such as logging, mining, hunting, andfishing, often to replace them with new human activities such as tourism and recreation.[32]Regulations and laws may be enacted for the preservation of natural resources.
  • 5. [edit] Environmental organizations and conferencesMain article: List of environmental organizationsReef doctor work station in Ifaty, MadagascarEnvironmental organizations can be global, regional, national or local; they can begovernment-run or private (NGO). Environmentalist activity exists in almost every country.Moreover, groups dedicated to community development and social justice also focus onenvironmental concerns.There are some volunteer organizations. For example Ecoworld and Paryawaran SachetakSamiti which is about the environment and is based in team work and volunteer work. SomeUS environmental organizations, among them the Natural Resources Defense Council and theEnvironmental Defense Fund, specialize in bringing lawsuits (a tactic seen as particularlyuseful in that country). Other groups, such as the US-based National Wildlife Federation, theNature Conservancy, and The Wilderness Society, and global groups like the World WideFund for Nature and Friends of the Earth, disseminate information, participate in publichearings, lobby, stage demonstrations, and may purchase land for preservation. Statewidenonprofit organizations such as the Wyoming Outdoor Council often collaborate with thesenational organizations and employ similar strategies. Smaller groups, including WildlifeConservation International, conduct research on endangered species and ecosystems. Moreradical organizations, such as Greenpeace, Earth First!, and the Earth Liberation Front, havemore directly opposed actions they regard as environmentally harmful. While Greenpeace isdevoted to nonviolent confrontation as a means of bearing witness to environmental wrongsand bringing issues into the public realm for debate, the underground Earth Liberation Frontengages in the clandestine destruction of property, the release of caged or penned animals,and other criminal acts. Such tactics are regarded as unusual within the movement, however.On an international level, concern for the environment was the subject of a United NationsConference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972, attended by 114 nations. Outof this meeting developed UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and the follow-up United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. Other internationalorganizations in support of environmental policies development include the Commission forEnvironmental Cooperation (as part of NAFTA), the European Environment Agency (EEA),and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).[edit] Usage in popular cultureFrom at least 1946, American comics with an environmental, conservation or outdoor themehave appeared; including Mark Trail, Smokey the Bear and Woodsy Owl.[edit] CriticismsCriticism of environmentalism tend to fall into two major categories: environmentalskepticism and anti-environmentalism. Environmental skeptics, such as Bjørn Lomborg (theauthor of The Skeptical Environmentalist) dispute the claims of environmentalists, claimingthey are either inaccurate or exaggerated. Anti-environmentalists, on the other hand, acceptmany of the claims made by environmentalists while simultaneously accepting that change isinevitable, regardless of cause and speed. They do not deny the impact of humanity, but they
  • 6. dispute the argument that humanity can kill the planet, citing lifes several billion year historyas evidence that it is more resilient than many environmentalists realize.References 1. ^ http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/ideology.html 2. ^ http://reason.com/archives/2002/02/01/debunking-green-myths 3. ^ Donald Gibson. Environmentalism: Ideology and Power. Nova Science Pub Inc. 2003 4. ^ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/environmentalism 5. ^ Cat Lincoln (Spring 2009). "Light, Dark and Bright Green Environmentalism". Green Daily. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 6. ^ Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (2005) 7. ^ David Urbinato (Summer 1994). "Londons Historic Pea-Soupers". United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 2006-08-02.References 1. ^ Veblen, Thorstein (1899): The Theory of the Leisure Class: an economic study of institutions, Dover Publications, Mineola, N.Y., 1994, ISBN 0-486-28062-4. (also available: Project Gutenberg e-text) 2. ^ consumerism, answers.com 3. ^ "Consumerism". Britannica Concise Encyclopedia Online. 2008. 4. ^ Ryan in Ritzer 2007, p. 701 5. ^ Ryan, Michael T. (2007) "consumption" in George Ritzer (ed.) The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, Blackwell Publishing, 2007, 701-705