The 2° limit in climate change and global warming is approaching the tipping point.
Consumer capitalism is a theoretical economic and social political condition in which consumer demand is manipulated, in a deliberate and coordinated way, on a very large scale, through mass-marketing techniques, to the advantage of sellers.
This theory is controversial. It suggests manipulation of consumer demand so potent that it has a coercive effect, amounts to a departure from free-market capitalism, and has an adverse effect on society in general. According to one source, the power of such ‘manipulation’ is not straightforward. It depends upon a new kind of individualism – projective individualism, where persons use consumer capitalism to project the kind of person who they want to be.
Some use the phrase as shorthand for the broader idea that the interests of other non-business entities (governments, religions, the military, educational institutions) are intertwined with corporate business interests, and that those entities also participate in the management of social expectations through mass media.
An important contribution to the critique of consumer capitalism has been made by the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler, but very little of this has been translated into English. Stiegler argues that capitalism today is governed not by production but by consumption, and that the techniques used to create consumer behavior amount to the destruction of psychic and collective individuation. The diversion of libidinal energy toward the consumption of consumer products, he argues, results in an addictive cycle, leading to hyperconsumption, the exhaustion of desire, and the reign of symbolic misery.
Not to be confused with Consumerization.
An electronics store in a shopping mall in Jakarta (2004)
Consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. Early criticism of consumerism was in the works of Thorstein Veblen in 1899, which examined the middle class emerging at the turn of the 20th century, which came to fruition by the end of the 20th century through the process of globalization.
In politics, the term “consumerism” has also been used to refer to the consumerists’ movement, consumer protection or consumer activism, which seeks to protect and inform consumers by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, and improved safety standards. In this sense it is a political movement or a set of policies aimed at regulating the products, services, methods, and standards of manufacturers, sellers, and advertisers in the interests of the consumer.
In economics, “consumerism” may refer to economic policies which emphasise consumption. In an abstract sense, it is the consideration that the free choice of consumers should strongly orient the choice by manufacturers of what is produced and how, and therefore orient the economic organization of a society (compare producerism, especially in the British sense of the term). In this sense, consumerism expresses the idea not of “one man, one voice”, but of “one dollar, one voice”, which may or may not reflect the contribution of people to society.