Consumer Culture: Troublesome Trends
Making of a New Consumer Culture
Industrialization has brought more to modern society than a wealth of consumer goods. With the arrival of industrialization came the ideology of consumerism - the doctrine that the self cannot be complete without a wealth of consumer goods.# The role that our present-day society holds up to its members is the role of the consumer, and the members of our society are judged by their ability and willingness to play that role. The difference between our present-day society and its immediate predecessor is not as radical as abandoning one role and picking up another. In neither of its stages could modern societies do without its members producing things to be consumed, and members of both societies do, of course, consume. The consumer of a consumer society, however, is a significantly different from the consumer of any other society thus far.
The difference is one of priorities, a shift of emphasis that makes an enormous difference to virtually every aspect of society, culture, and individual life. The differences are so deep and that they justify speaking of our society as a society of a separate and distinct kind - a consumer society.
To increase their capacity for consumption, consumers are never left to rest. They are constantly exposed to new temptations to keep them in the state of suspicion and steady dissatisfaction. Advertising commanding them to shift attention needs to confirm the suspicion while offering a way of satisfaction. It is often said that the consumer market seduces its customers. But in order to do so, it needs customers who want to be seduced. In a properly working consumer society, consumers seek actively to be seduced. They live from attraction to attraction, from temptation to temptation--each attraction and each temptation...