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The Culture of consumerism

What Barbie Dolls
Have to Say...

The Culture of Consumerism
Christopher Lasch

Start | The Celebration of Waste | Resistance to Creative Waste | Spending for Prosperity
The Affluent Society | References

The Affluent Society.

Consumer goods spoke so loudly, in fact, that social critics began to fear that the voice of moderation and sobriety was in danger of being completely submerged in the clamorous invitation to buy, to borrow, and to spend without a second thought, and to indulge every whim as quickly as it came to mind. When Dwight Eisenhower engaged an advertising firm to promote his campaign for the presidency in 1952, many commentators objected to this packaging of a candidate by Madison Avenue-a practice that threatened to replace political discourse with advertising slogans. Mass promotion, it was now clear, would not stop with the marketing of washing machines and refrigerators. In The Image (1962), Daniel Boorstin pointed out that images of reality threatened to replace reality itself, so that politics came to revolve not around events but around "pseudo-events" staged for the benefit of the mass media. Paul Goodman argued that American youth were "growing up absurd," unable to look forward to useful, honorable work that made some lasting contribution to society instead of producing goods no one really needed. Galbraith's Affluent Society (1958 ) called attention to the contrast between "private affluence and public squalor." According to Galbraith, neither economists nor politicians and administrators admitted the "diminishing urgency of wants" in the age of abundance. Instead they sought to engineer a constantly rising level of private consumption, while public services and amenities were allowed to decay.

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