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Criticism of anti-consumerism

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Conspicuous consumption

The term conspicuous consumption is often used critically to describe the tendency of people to identify strongly with the goods and services they consume, especially branded products, indicating a high social status (expensive jewelry, big car, etc.). The products are not seen as objects of intrinsic value, but rather as social signals, they allow consumers to easily identify people with the same consumption. Most people deny having conspicuous consumption by using the argument that they are “forced to consume.” Moreover, few people at the moment are going to admit that their relationship with a product or brand substitute for healthy human relationships, relationships that may be lacking in modern societies dysfunctional. A societz with a high rate of consumption is called a consumer society. Marx explained that the capitalist economy, instead of focusing on their market prices, leading to a fetishization of goods and services and a devaluation of their value.

The older term “conspicuous consumption” was widespread in the 1960s to describe consumption in the United States, but it was quickly attached to larger debates about media theory, culture jamming and the its corollary productivism. Appeared at the turn of the twentieth century in the work of Thorstein Veblen, the concept of “conspicuous consumption” is described as an irrational and bewildering form of economic behavior. Viktor Frankl resumes Veblen argument by suggesting that in United States, behind consumption, there is an extension of the desire to “breadwinner”, argument again more recently in the book of Canadian authors Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, Revolt consumed.


Although there is not exactly an intellectual movement to promote consumerism, there has been, in recent years, strong criticism of anticonsommation movement that could lead by rigor to bans involving individual liberty.

Especially libertarian attacks against the anticonsumériste movement are largely based on the perception that such a move leads to elitism. Libertarians are convinced that no one has the right to decide for others to say what goods are “necessary” to life every day and those who do not. For them, anticonsumerism is a precursor to central planning and a totalitarian society. For example, according to American magazine Reason, in 1999, the Marxists academies have become anticonsumerists.

On the other hand, many people see anticonsumerism as a personal lifestyle choice, rather than as a political belief.

Advocates of a balanced regulation say it is for governments to legislate to restrict the actions of companies and consistently punish their leaders when they violate laws. However, bureaucratic structures and the capitalist economic imperatives can lead to harmful behavior to local communities, employees and the environment.

Translated from Wikipedia

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