Spiral of Consumption

1576 Words7 Pages
The main effect on consumer culture on the lives of its citizens is "[t]he erosion of the ties of community" (Sagoff 94). The problems inherent in consumer culture exist as a spiral; the lack of community beget increased need of commodities, while at the same time consumption of a larger amount of commodities dissolves the ties of the community. To impede the downward spiral of consumer culture, one must take action upon the roots of the problem, the roots of increased need and loss of community. However, since the loss of community is a result of need, and need is a result of the loss of community it is difficult to pinpoint a single cause. Therefore, one must look at the movements within the cycle to determine what action to take to remedy the situation. Lack of community requires people to define themselves by their possessions: culturally, ability signaling as well as reference groups. Thus, the need for more possessions is created. This need for more increases the need for income, and demands longer work hours. The more time spent in the marketplace instead of the home absolves the community involvement. In addition, reduced community activities have left families susceptible to amplified exposure to advertising, which in turn also amplifies the perception of need. "We consume too much when market relationships displace the bonds of community, compassion, culture and place" (Sagoff 96). The solution to consuming too much exists in reducing need, the need for ability signaling, expression through commodities and the plethora of advertising. Hampering these building blocks of relative need will in turn reduce the loss of community. In addition, the public must make an effort to be involved in the community to redu... ... middle of paper ... ...ic of loss of community involvement. Sagoff argues that "[t]he insistence that everyone produce and consume more can dissolve the ties to family, land, community and place which indigenous peoples traditionally rely for their security" (94). The loss of community drives people to use commodities as means of communication, and as a result increase the needs of the individual in order to appropriately express themselves. The increased need, in return, perpetually increases due to shifts in reference and association groups, as well as advertising. In the end, the increased needs of individuals only add to the loss of the community. The destruction of consumer culture works in an endless cycle which ultimately can be overturned by addressing the causes of the social context of consumer culture--the eternal growth of need, and the lack of community involvement.
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