Monday, March 28, 2011

Rejecting materialism-say it isn't so!

Starting on page 79 of Sut Jhally's "Imaged-Based Culture," Jhally notes how in a market society, advertisers link happiness to what can be bought in the marketplace. However, people link happiness to their social life. This creates an environment where people are increasingly unhappy and unsatisfied. When we are continually shown images of materialistic things, even when advertisers try to connect the product with an emotional/intangible benefit, there is still that idea that you can never be happy because you can never have it all.

This article provides an interesting look at a couple who rejected their old materialistic ways in favor of a more simplistic life with only 100 possessions. In the interview, the wife talks about how she was making $40k annually on the "work-spend treadmill," which was very unsatisfying. She then quit her job, donated most of her possessions and began working on her own business as a freelance writer/designer. The article also notes that perhaps the couple is part of a "major shift in the nation's consumption patterns."

Could this become a more widespread movement, or since the economy seems to be picking up, are people headed back to a make-spend, make-spend way of life?

1 comment:

  1. If I were a betting woman, I'd say that the vast majority of Americans will not be willing to give up their possessions and higher paying jobs to live more "simple" lives in the future. (Assuming we get out of this economic slump eventually!)

    With further fragmentation of the marketplace in the 21st century, I believe consumption will not decrease but rather become even more specialized to suit our tastes and interests. The digital marketplace has allowed advertisers to target us more and more with products based on our Web use, etc.-- and allowed us to find things we didn't even know we wanted. (Trolling Craigslist is my current obsession.) I think that in the future we'll be able to be more selective with what we purchase -- but I don't think we'll purchase less. This translates into wanting more MEANING in the things we buy.

    In particular, I think the "millenial" generation will have higher expectations concerning product quality and environmental impact. For example, I think demand will continue to grow for products that are made responsibly and sustainably with recycled or eco-friendly materials.

    To respond to Stephanie's question-- I think materialism is here to stay, folks.