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Reading Report On Consumption

2193 words - 9 pages

Reading Report on Christopher Lasch „The Culture of Consumption“ and Michael Schudson „Delectable Materialism: Second Thoughts on Consumer Culture“
Which are, according to Lasch, the indicators pointing to the emergence of a consumer society? In which decade(s) does he locate that emergence? In the late 19th century the industry in the United States restricted its production to goods that were necessary for construction across the country. Then, by the middle of the 20th century “the shift from heavy industry to consumer goods […] was unmistakable” (Lasch, p. 1381). The “consumer debt […] increased”, “half of the families in the middle income range carried installment ...view middle of the document...

1384). Buyers lost track on what they really wanted and instead they went for what advertisement suggested they needed.
{text:soft-page-break} In his subchapter on “The Revisionist Defense of Scholarship” Lasch points to certain critiques and defenses of consumption. How do these view the role of the consumer? The writings of Stuart Ewen, a historian on consumer culture, claim that “consumption is part of a […] system of control” that leaves the “consumer incapable of independent judgment” (Lasch, p. 1388).
“The new way of thinking” (Lasch, p. 1388), on the other hand, enables consumers to decide, what they want – without any external interference. They give their acquisition as much meaning as they think it deserves, and therewith the industry can make as much suggestions and promises as it wants to – it doesn't work on the costumers. Therewith the “costumers should be understood as active participants in the culture of consumption” (Lasch, p. 1388).
Then again some revisionists negate that ”consumption [actually] is exploitive or oppressive” - they say, that it rather frees the people – they feel a lot better about themselves when they can afford the indulgence life has to offer (Lasch, p. 1388).
Some revisionist dug deep in history and found out that consumerism had a place in society for a long, long time... it's not just a new tendency that arose from industrialization, but something that comes with human demands.
How does Michael Schudson characterize American journalists'/intellectuals' attitudes toward consumerism? What is the central question at the basis of his article? American journalists can not “consider consumerism in the United States without depreciating it” (Schudson, p. 341). They do not stick by their wealth, their wide range of goods that were to acquire in their supermarkets and one of their cultures main feature. “They view American materialism skeptically and critically” (Schudson, p. 342). “They trade on a distaste for consumerism” (Schudson, p. 342), even though it is part of their own culture.
Schudson criticizes the critics that tend to be extreme in their refusal of consumption, because actually a “way for a more balanced assessment of consumerism” has to be found. As the United States are hosting the consumption, they hold the dream of many in the rest of the world.
{text:soft-page-break} Which basic assumptions does most criticism of the consumer culture share? What is, according to Schudson, problematic about these assumptions? The criticism of consumer culture is based on the depreciation “of advertising and costumer culture […], middle - class society and capitalism in general” (Schudson, p. 342). They “object […] that things are in the saddle to ride us” (Schudson, p. 342) - so to speak: we depend on what we have got. They claim that “if we could live the simple live”(Schudson, p. 342), we could be satisfied by what nature has to...

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