Feb 05 2010

The Overspent American: Part 2

Published by at 12:45 am under Reflection Blog

In reading the second half of The Overspent American, the new trend of downshifting has occurred in American society. Downshifting is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States where people decide that they are either tired of working endlessly only to acquire meaningless materials or they are forced to downshift due to their work situation changing requiring an adjustment in the spending. “Before changing their lives, about half of all downshifters worked more than forty hours a week, and more than half of those worked in excess of fifty”(114).  Downshifters are very aware of the society around them and constantly have to fight against the “norms” in order to refrain from impulsive consumption. “Simple-livers commonly talk about what they call ‘clutter’”(137). Schor argues that shopping has been the so ingrained in American culture that we connect consumerism with are very essences of ourselves, “ husbands and fathers suffer with their reduced manhood”(140). I feel it is terrible that our desires for items cause us to not feel worthy and suffer from decreased self-esteem.

The video we watched in class was also vey interesting by showing how far advertisers will go in order to capture youth and turn them into obsessive consumerism. Companies argue that they only show and expose teens to what them merely see in their day-to-day life.  This debate is battled over and over among parents and sociologist, but there is some much linkage between teens and what they are exposed to it is hard to say for sure which inspires which. “Laying bare the fantasy illuminates the often tenuous link between the product and the dream, thereby reducing the power of the object. When identity and consumption are linked, getting too deliberate spoils the symbolism”(148). Teenagers are the easiest culture to mold because they have such a strong needs to fit in and find their place within society. Teens have yet to fully shape their identity so they are actively seeking it in the society around them and advertisers take advantage of their fragile state of being. “ Temptations of easy money, delaying gratification, and-because young people have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to the pitches of ad men- deconstructing the powerful symbolism that the commercial culture throws at them every day”(158).   

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