The Consumer Culture

November 19, 1999 • Volume 9, Issue 44
Are Americans becoming too materialistic?
By David Masci


r19991119-coverpic.jpg (Photo Credit: Corbis Images)
(Photo Credit: Corbis Images)

American society revolves around consumption to such an extent that more than two-thirds of the economy involves the buying and selling of consumer goods. Critics say consumerism has made Americans too materialistic, seducing them into working too hard and spending too little time with their families, all because they want more money to buy more things. Defenders of consumerism say that people generally make informed choices about work and family and that “experts” should not tell them how to live their lives. Much of the debate focuses on consumerism's impact on children. Some say that television advertisements directed at kids convey overly materialistic messages and should be limited or even prohibited. But others argue that parents, not the state, should decide whether children watch commercials or not.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Credit and Consumer Debt
Jul. 20, 2012  Debt Collectors
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
Popular Culture