Consumerism: Why and Wherefore
Tariq Siddiqi, Assistant Professor, Galgotias Institute of Management Technology, Greater Noida, India (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Today, consumers are taking home bigger baskets of commodities (Friedman, Milton 1994), quantitatively as well as qualitatively. Goods that had hitherto been categorized as luxury products are now seen in middle class drawing rooms. Consumption trends have managed to pull down barriers of class difference (Paul Henry, 2002). Markets have become more democratic both at the demand side as well as supply side of the economic equation. Standard of living, as measured by the quality and quantity of goods and services available to people, and the way these goods and services are distributed within a population, is rising worldwide (Julian L. Simon, 1995). Money supply is by no means scarce. But the concept of a ‘standard of living’ may be quite at variance with the ‘quality of life’, which takes into account not only the material standards, but also other more intangible aspects that make up human life, such as leisure, safety, cultural resources, social life, physical health, environmental issues etc. The ‘Easterlin paradox’ suggests that there is no link between a society’s economic development and its average level of happiness. These aspects haven’t followed a graph parallel to that of the material standards of living of the world. There has been a decline in the qualitative aspects. A trend that is conspicuously noticeable in the socio-cultural milieu, has been that individuals have begun to lead more bourgeois lifestyles (Gilbert, Dennis (1998), putting their success on display in the form of their material possessions. A person, for whom collecting material goods is an important priority, is referred to as a materialist. On hasty examination, it may appear as a harmless matter that people give importance to possession, but it has more far reaching effects than suspected.