Shaw et. al. (2013), Chapter 5: The Morality and Ethics of Consumption. Textbook Reading: Why Do We Consume So Much, by Juliet Schor, pp.258-66. Task for students. Once you have read the textbook chapter and the Reading, answer discussion questions 1, 3-5 (ignore questions 2 and 6). 1. Who is the “we” in the question “why do we consume so much?” is Juliet Schor correct that “there is increasingly little that we do which is not a consumption experience”? And that we have become a culture of excessive consumption? Explain your answers?
I think it is not correct, because ‘We’ stand for the large middle classes who basic needs are met, who have discretionary income in the question. But there become less and less that we do which is not consumption experience. For example, the average US home has increased by more than 50% since the 1970s, rising more than 400 square feet, from 1,905 in 1987 to 2,322 in 1999 alone. The number of vehicles per person has increased, as has the size and luxuriousness of those vehicles. As we all know, this is a culture excessive consumption in the society.
3. Explain why Schor believes that ‘more leisured, less consumerist lifestyles are structurally blocked’. Why can’t people simply choose to work less and enjoy more free time? Do you agree that working long hours encourages people to consume more? People cannot simply choose to work and enjoy more free time, because time means fewer incomes. In order to maintain a normal life, they choose to work for a long time. I agree the work long time that will encourage the people to do consumption. After people working for long time, they usually will desire some favorite activities, such as shopping, having a great meal or vocations. This can be considered as a reward for themselves.
5. Explain why you agree or disagree with Schor’s contention that consumption has become a social competition. How has the old concept of “keeping up with the Joneses’ changed? Do you agree that it is difficult for individual to resist or drop out of the consumption competition? Explain why or why not. I agree with schor’s contention, because large majority of the population are participating in consuming. So, the consumer lifestyles have become an important part of how we are defined and how we fit into socially differentiated communities. In the past, the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ refers to the colloquial description of consumption competitions, occurred mainly within a neighborhood setting. Because the neighborhoods are relatively homogeneous in terms of the social status and economic resources of their members, the folks keeping up with the Joneses tended to be their equal. They did aspire, but rarely more than to increase their consumer expenditure by 10-20%.
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