In the modern world, consumerism seems to have gotten into it in every single aspect. It is viewed as both a repercussion and a driving force in the economy. It is a phenomenon that is immanent in the developed countries, where people consume and purchase goods in excess of what they really need (Carrigan 560). With the industrial revolution, there was an overcomer of the scarcity of the resources which has resulted in the availability of goods in unlimited amounts. This has created capitalism, where the new economy has resulted in a quick middle-class growth in the developed countries. The middle-class people are having a surplus that they manage to meet their basic needs and remain with more for extra use. According to Veblen, this is the leisure class (22).
Basically, to consume is to utilize things up, be it through eating, wearing or using them to content one's needs or desires. To be a consumer literally means to do the things appropriately designed to be consumed, which means one has to buy them, pay for them, and ban other people from consuming without consent. Moreover, consuming could also mean to destroy. They either get used up or lose their attraction, hence not fit to consume.
Consumerism is what supports the economy, hence consumers are expected by the businesses to continuously buy their goods to keep the businesses thriving. Consumerism is always seen as a bad habit in society and in people's lives. In the contemporary world, consumerism has both the positive side and the negative sides, which shall be argued out in this essay to get an exact conclusion of is consumerism good or bad?
Consumerism, to begin with, has its effects on the economy of the society, it has its moral implications, it has the environmental side and the consequences that cannot be seen. Under these, there are both the positive and negative sides of each. To start with;
Economic Impacts of Consumerism
It is evident that consumerism is responsible for an economic boost. The more people buy and spend, the more the selling and producing companies raise income, which is responsible for their growth and expansion. Moreover, there are more chances of creating jobs and economic growth is guaranteed (Miraftab 875). Consumerism makes peoples' lives secure, through all the aspects by nurturing the business, which increases the GDP (Ciarli 38). This is one of the positive sides of consumerism to both the consumer and the producer/seller.
How much people spent and the products' costs have a correlation. Since companies are seeking to become more competitive in the market, they lower their prices. This has caused people to work for low income, especially in developing countries, which is a challenge on a global scale. It is, however, usually an advantage to the consumers' side, since they will buy more products at a cheaper rate.
It has been proved that the developed countries owe their wealth to consumerism, since it creates jobs, growing the economy and providing relief of stress to the working group (Miraftab 874). Philosophers believe that for countries to develop themselves, they have to choose between consumerism and poverty. According to Adam Smith, consumerism has the capacity to generate job and come up with a complete tax system which can be used later to better the living conditions of people.
It is not possible for any company whosoever to improve the production rates when there are no buyers for the product. Therefore, a producer has to come up with a persuasive language which talks about the product quality, and why is the product important for the potential consumer to buy (Gilead 630). From the way a producer presents the products provokes the consumer to buy, even when they do not need the product. The producer is, therefore, the most significant determinant of how consumerism is going to be affected in the market. Consumerism is, therefore, the economy's best attribute for growth.
In the economic models, the society benefits at the end, since after the consumers buy what is being sold by the sellers, the sellers use the profits to develop and expand the business. This growth is not only of benefits to the company and the workers but also to the entire community. Through consideration of the wellness of the general community, when there is economic development, that is an assurance that the growth will benefit not just the business owners but the entire society (Minallah, et al., 176). This shows that consumerism is an important habit that people should practice since the benefits come back to them in a circular flow chart.
In most of the economically stable countries, consumerism is very rampant. The production of luxury products is so massive (Gilead 639), the media is saturated with promotions and advertisements for most of the branded services and products and the rising levels of debtors, loaning companies and plenty of people living in debts are signals that people are buying products and services extremely excessively. Moreover, product innovations have highly increased as well as innovations that deviate from traditional ways of living. These include food hawking services and flavors inspired by Western.
Moral and Social Impacts of Consumerism
We all know that we live in a consumerist culture, but not everyone knows the extent of problems and effects this has on our moral values. Everyone definitely likes and enjoys a new brand of phone, but never get to think the fate of the workers employed in the mining of the dangerous minerals required for it to function (Kasser 200). The global outsourcing of labor help in the developing countries in job creation for the poor members of the society (Miraftab 875). The big companies that have employed them in rare cases do put into consideration the working conditions and their safety. They do not take responsibility for the fate of these workers in their own companies. Most of the outsourcing companies usually evade taxation by not registering themselves in the taxpaying associations, hence causing harm to the Gross Domestic Product.
Consumerism causes these outsourcing companies to look for cheap labor and make them work under pressure and unbearable conditions because of being desperate. They are forced to produce more for so much less pay, and they do not take the moral consideration of their actions. Creating a unified society under this condition will be hard, since the people who are supposed to control human conscious to the right direction have separated themselves from the group, having outdated ideologies and theories on how things should be done.
Getting back to the meaning of consumption and its unequal relation with the real economy, repeating and encouragement of consumption without regarding the influence it has to the ecology. With the advertising companies and the marketing agencies being so profound in using the word consumerism offend the consumers. Through their websites and advertising channels, they always insist on targeting prospective consumers and increase their market share. Most of these advertising companies use sweet words to attract the consumers, indirectly terming them as cows, who have always been herded from one trend to another and a commodity to another. For some of the agencies, consumers are mere dollars walking and talking around.
The rise in consumerism has however had a negative impact on the planet earth. For instance, some of the products like of the textile industries are made up of a lot of amounts of important materials such as chemicals, water, expensive minerals and also consume energy, which pose a very high demand on the natural resources of the planet. Increase in consumerism also could result in a change in the of values such integrity and spiritual morals of the community, and result in unnecessary competitions, and materialism.
According to a study conducted by Wei, (2012), in a peer-reviewed journal of Psychological Science, consumerism can lead to depression. Middle class and low-class people are living lives full of debts, and working hours longer than required to get money to cater for their desired high lifestyle, which entails high consumption. The overtime working results to people spending less time with their families, relatives and friends, and this results in deprivation of social circles. Consumerism as a culture is actually a threat to the fabric of the global society (Kasser 205) Consumerism usually come in the form of long-term relationships for human beings. The most consistent predator of happiness for a long-term relationship is creating and maintaining many long-term human relationships.
The rise in consumerism has brought bragging to people, where people are buying products and services to display publicly their economic power, but they are really buying them for pleasure and fun. They buy them without a plan and budget of what is important and what is less important; and how much it will cost them in terms of monetary value. In the contemporary world, social media has highly contributed to consumerism, where people have formed a culture of "celebrity worship". They follow the social accounts of celebrities to see the brands that they are using and purchase such products and brands.
For some people, their thoughts are that consumerism satisfies all their life's desires, but for an increasing number of people, it actually does not. Consumerism instead, it creates impossible ambitions, which are meant to logically not possible to make people happy. The idea that consumerism use is that new needs are continually created in people to make them consume more and more. This will result in a constant chase after the carrots of a stick, which might be reached at sometimes, and the need will definitely come up. This automatically creates a lack of fulfillment.
Consumerism will not be able to provide most of the important things. It is inconsistent with the well-being of humans. Although some of the basic economic markets can fulfill most of the basic needs of human, such as food and shelter, there are some other basic needs it cannot provide. These include security, spiritual matters, time to reflect, joy amongst the children, companionship and development intellectually. Consumerism, however, proves itself that it can provide all these things when the advertising company links their goods and services to the real needs of humans. For example, an advertisement that the tortilla chips that connected the notion of friends with companionship. Furthermore, advertisements will strongly suggest that these products can give a hand in fulfilling these real needs of humans. The tortilla chips advertisement implied that through buying tortilla chips, one boosts companionship and brand them 'friendchips'. This is a prove that consumerism playacts to have the ability to meet the real human being needs but in the real sense, it cannot. This represents one of the most disappointing facts about consumerism. It misleads people on critically important needs of humans.
In recent times, political leaders have been devoted to promoting the wellness of human beings. This will, however, never succeed since they seek to accomplish them using an economy that encourages the culture of consumerism to continue (Kasser 200). For attempts to address major global issues such as poverty and the climatic change, the same can apply. The culture of consumerism conflicts highly with the aims of wellness of human beings (Kasser 202). This is applicable in a case such as reducing poverty and maintaining a sustainable living. Since consumerism is extremely strong and all-inclusive, it becomes very hard for the people to see the discrepancies around it and seek for alternatives.
The impacts on the environment have been very pathetic and dangerous to the environment. The environment is d...
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