Consumerism is economically exhibited by the persistent buying of new products and services. It is motivated by large amounts of money spent on advertising made to produce both desire to follow trends and to satisfy personal wants. Materialism is considered to be one of the end products of consumerism.
Consumerism is becoming the central element of seeral world economies. It is commonly seen in Western countries, however, even emerging countries in the world are adapting to it today.
Consumption, Life Satisfaction and the Economy
In a study conducted by Frank Trentmann, Empire of Things, he described the current consumers as “bursting” talking about the considerable amount of things people own. He also stated that the totality of consumption is saturating consumers in debt and is unfortunately depleting natural resources.
If consumption is about evaluating the quality of living and contentment, then materials, money, energy and others are simply elements and not the end product.
The common narrative of modern societies and of the economic system today is “more is better”. As long as there exist a maintainable connection between material resources consumed and quality of life, “more is better” makes perfect sense.
However this connection is deteriorating. Evidence reveals that consumers are heading towards diminishing returns on quality of life.
Consumption may eventually end up in depleting our natural resources. As the very word itself indicates the resources as finite.
Recent recessions and the Brexit movement somewhat pivots around the spending habits of the people, with retailers and economists predicting the outcome, hoping for the best and fearing for the worst things that could happen.
Whereas food, shelter, water and education are the paramount foundations for development and survival, it seems peculiar that in modern times, the civilized world is depending on people buying things.
The most disturbing aspect of all this is the identical relationship of consumption and economy. To consume something indicates that resources will eventually run out. Despite of this, economy is constantly thought of as stocks, loans, purchasing, shares and others.
The latest state of global financial economies, of our societies and specially our environment are evidence that people use and demand more than they really have. This may be thought of as a serious problem.
Consumerism impede with the operation of a society by promoting insatiable craving for things and the money to buy goods and services with less concern for the true benefit of what is bought. Encouraging the accelerated habit of discarding old products and buying new ones.
“More is better” may not be the favorable in some situations, take energy for example, about ten years ago, UN stated that the increase in energy consumption does not end in increased Human Development Index (HDI).
On the contrary, Canadian scientist Vaclav Smil revealed that the leading HDI rates were found on places with minimal annual energy use.
In a study conducted in 2000, life satisfaction measures were discovered to hardly react to increases in GDP per person above $15,000.
In a place like the U.S. where gross domestic product is considerably higher than other countries, life satisfaction levels scored lower than countries like Denmark, New Zealand, Ireland and Sweden, which are countries with lower GDP than the United States.