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?