Directions of the Consumer Movement

January 12, 1972

Report Outline
Rising Concern for Consumer Rights
Growth of Industry and Consumerism
Effort to Consolidate Consumer Movement
Special Focus

Rising Concern for Consumer Rights

Size and Shapelessness of the Consumer Movement

If the sixties were a decade of militant minorities demanding civil rights, the 1970s may prove to be the decade of the militant majority demanding consumer rights. Every American is a consumer, from the president of General Motors to the assembly-line worker in a Chevrolet plant. The consumer movement, then, has virtually unlimited membership potential and hence should have the power to sweep all opposition aside. Private consumer groups are active at the federal, state, and local levels, as are government-supported consumer-protection agencies. But the consumer movement, if large, is diffuse. Concerted action by consumer groups is difficult to achieve, and the fragmented and overlapping authority of government agencies can and does lead to buck-passing and inaction.

Various moves now are under way to bring unity and strength to the consumer movement. Ralph Nader is attempting to form an army of “public citizens” to safeguard the rights of consumers. Moreover, the several Nader organizations and other consumer groups are pressing Congress to enact legislation setting up independent agencies in government to look after product safety and consumer protection. Floor action on these measures is expected in 1972.

The growth of “consumerism” probably was inevitable. President Nixon, in proposing a “Buyer's Bill of Rights” on Oct. 30, 1969, stated that, “To their credit, producers and sellers have generally become far more responsible with the passing years, but even the limited abuses which occur now have greater impact.” He explained:

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Credit and Consumer Debt
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May 17, 2011  Future of the Euro
Oct. 10, 2008  Regulating Credit Cards
May 09, 2008  Financial Crisis
Mar. 02, 2007  Consumer Debt
May 26, 2006  Teen Spending
Nov. 19, 1999  The Consumer Culture
Nov. 15, 1996  Consumer Debt
Sep. 13, 1985  America in Debt
Jan. 25, 1980  Consumer Debt
Apr. 11, 1975  Consumer Credit Economy
Jan. 12, 1972  Directions of the Consumer Movement
Nov. 10, 1965  Personal Debt in a Consumer Economy
Jan. 02, 1957  Tight Credit
Feb. 10, 1956  Consumer Credit
Mar. 30, 1949  Installment Credit
Aug. 09, 1941  Restriction of Consumer Credit
Jan. 28, 1941  The Big Business of Making Small Loans
Jan. 17, 1934  Federal Credit Aid for Consumers
Jan. 01, 1930  Installment Buying, 1920–1930
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
General Social Trends