Does Our Culture Encourage Consumption Too Much? Argumentative Essays Examples

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Business, United States, America, Consumption, Culture, People, Services, Products

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2023/05/15

<<Professor Name>>

America is known for its consumption. Over the years the American consumer has changed in to an out-of-control shopper. It is important to understand the reasons for this change. The America of the 50s and 60s was relatively different from today, in terms of the culture of consumption. America is influenced with newer trends and it is ever-evolving. Whether it is food, fashion, music or technology. The trends are defining how people buy goods, rather than buying what they really need. Newer ways in mass marketing and advertising and the advent of digital technology has changed the future of many companies, whose sole purpose is profit. This paper seeks to examine the basic causes, the influence of contemporary culture on consumption and the impact of marketing, digital technology in the new world of quick consumption.
The increase in consumption is a direct consequence of America evolving from a need based to a want based society. Perhaps, that is a major factor for the increase in consumption. If you take a closer look at the trends in America, people have begun to be defined by what they possess and wear. They are using their possessions to communicate with one another (Maasik 72). In the good old days, people were more efficient in managing their wants and needs. Mass production and marketing has changed all that. The post World War 2 stability gave way to economic growth and prosperity. More people started migrating to America and goods were mass produced for an ever increasing population. More goods in the market however did not mean more consumption. It meant more competition, for shelf space. Companies were under pressure to sell what they produced. This is where mass marketing and advertising played a big role. More than disposable income and trends, marketing and advertising have driven mass consumption. According to Maasik in Signs of Life in the U.S.A. - Consuming Passions: The Culture of American Consumption, “American popular culture is grounded in consumption”. Consumption is good for a country’s economy but what we see in America is a society which is in to meaningless consumerism. America likes to consume, people look out for new products, new services and like to keep up with new trends. There is no dearth of new products, styles and technologies. Advertising has helped in keeping the pace and consumers are willing to try new products and services. Take an example of Blue Jeans. From the time Levi’s launched it, the concept of Jeans has undergone radical changes – from being a rugged fabric for laborers to the baggy generation to the skinny generation of today (Maasik 74). Another example is cars. Cars have evolved from their basic value of helping move people from point A to B, to becoming a statement about their lifestyle, wealth and power. These symbols have been attached in our minds by clever advertising. In a typical family of 4, there are usually 2 or more cars. One is for the family and the others are for errands (small car/old car), daily work commute (image car) and weekend car and so on. Wants have therefore increased manifold compared to needs, leading to more consumption.
Let us now examine the role played by American culture. America has been blessed with a vast expanse of land. Historically, Americans have utilized this gift by investing and selling vast tracts of land. America has always been a land of plenty and this is the culture that has been ingrained in people’s minds – it’s all about having more and therefore wanting more. The booming economy of the past is taken for granted. According to Maasik, mass production and advertising has seen shifts in trends, which again lead to mass consumption (76). New products need the creation of new markets. This is leading to the culture of more. More products, more advertising, more consumption, but less happiness, unfortunately. With more disposable incomes, the human needs have risen dramatically in the recent past. One of the reasons is competition and brand imagery. Advertising thrives on fads and trends. Marketers strive to create new markets and every decade in America, is witness to different trends, be it fashion, hair styles or cars. If you consider music, the 50s and 60’s were known for acid rock, hippie culture and student revolutions. In the 70’s we had an influx of pop culture with new pop icons and celebrities. Hair styles, clothes, shoes. Everything changed over the years and some trends are coming back too. The way people shop has changed dramatically. Unlike previous years, where one had to browse through a catalog or visit malls physically, the advent of digital technology has changed all that. The hi-tech culture is now prevalent for all to see. Digital apps are everywhere and we are bombarded with advertising; online, offline, on radio and television. The digital age has made it convenient for mass marketers to reach more people in more markets, quickly. It’s indeed a wonder why we have to have new cars with new colors and shades, or a new iPhone launch almost every year, although the features do not differ very much.
Another reason for this excessive consumption is that America moved from an industrial economy to a service economy. Even in major cities like Chicago, vast tracts of industrial land have vanished (Maasik 77). We witnessed the development of mass selling and merchandising with the advent of huge malls. People have many choices in terms of the range of products they can buy. Marketers and advertisers push new products with hardly any new features. For thirty odd years, from 1945 to 1975 America went through a phase where it produced more and began consuming more. The political and economic focus was on adopting a culture of mass consumption to help the economy and fulfill the needs of society. Mass production helped in creating new innovative products. Older products made way to newer ones, establishing a consumer culture, which really helped America fight the economic downturns it faced off and on. Americans are defining themselves by what they possess and display. Consumer culture is forcing people to change and individuality is not important. We also have an explosion of services. Groceries, medicines and other goods are delivered promptly to our doorsteps. We live in a virtual world today. Though we want to be different as unique individuals, we buy identical products and services and want to look trendy. In addition, most of the jobs on offer today do not involve production in the real labor sense. We have moved to a service and knowledge economy. Technology is really helping this move to a service economy. New companies like ‘Uber’ are re-defining the way businesses and industries work. Another example is rise of social media like Facebook or Twitter. Consumers are always online and people learn about new products and services through their friends on social media. And most of these services are available at our fingertips, through mobile apps. The availability of services via digital apps is adding to the wave of consumerism. More and more people are buying products and services digitally and that trend is increasing.


America has evolved from a land of plenty to a society that is consumed by new products and services. The distinction between what people need and want does not exist. Popular culture is directly responsible for the increase in consumption. Industrialization is giving way to a service economy and digital apps and e-commerce is expanding, in a world which craves for quick gratification. Smart phones and mobile e-payment gateways make it real easy to shop and pay, on the go. The age of mass consumption and consumerism is here to stay.


Maasik, Sonia. “Signs of Life in the U.S.A. - Consuming Passions: The Culture of American Consumption.” Bookrags. Bookrags, n.d. Web. 11 January 2016.

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