Consumerist Culture and Capitalism

2021 Words9 Pages
Synopsis Consumerist culture is understood to be both a driver and resultant of capitalist ideology. Society’s continual desire to acquire commodities that satisfy their marginal utilities fuels the capitalist system of production. This essay considers arguments in support of the idea that consumerism is a vital aspect of capitalist economic process. It proves that in a post-scarcity society avarice has become a social norm, market institutions manipulate consumer preference, by propagating that identities are forged through conspicuous consumption, and thus persuade individuals that they will maximise their utility by continually purchasing the excess of output generated by the economic system. Thus demonstrating interdependency between the affluenza of consumerism culture and capitalistic economic growth. Response It is an accepted assumption that Consumerism (a social fascination with the acquisition of commercial goods) is a cornerstone of Capitalism. Just as Clive Hamilton suggests in the title of his institutional critique of the neo-classical assumptions of consumer sovereignty and rationality, Consumer Capitalism, he argues that the economic system is dependant on consumerist practices. Similarly Robert Heilbroner’s classical political economic analysis of the Ideology of Capital, via Marxist framework, demonstrates that a change in attitudes toward the ‘acquisition’ of capital and commodities is what allowed the bourgeoisie to realise themselves to be the dominant class and thus spur the development of a socio-economic system based on commodification to emerge. However other economists and socialists argue that the desire to consume an ever-increasing amount of commodities is one of man’s intrinsic values rather than the base of an economic system, it is his ‘hedonism unchained’ (Megone 2007). Crystal Bortolovich (1998) likens the practice of
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