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Ethics of Consumption Essay

Once you have read the textbook chapter and the Reading, answer discussion questions 1, 3- 5 (ignore questions 2 and 6). Q1. 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.

The “we” in the question “why do we consume so much?” is stands for the majority of Americans those whose basic needs are met, who have discretionary income, the large middle classes whose standard of living has risen so dramatically over this century.

Juliet Schor is correct that “there is increasingly little that we do which is not a consumption experience”. For example, the average American home has increased by more than 50% since 1970s and the number of vehicles per person has increased.

And we have become a culture of excessive consumption due to $20,000 outdoor grills, $17,000 birthday parties for teen girls FAO Schwartz, diamond studded bras at Victoria Secrets, professional appliances for people not home to cook, designer clothes for 6 year olds as well as $1000 bed sheets.

Q3. 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?

Schor believes that “more leisure, less consumerist lifestyles is structurally blocked” because we are undermining our quality of life, we fail to take enough leisure, and live excessively busy and stressful lives.

People cannot simply choose to work less and enjoy more free time because the employers set work norms and schedules, and those are tied to jobs. A full-time worker is paid per person, not per hour, and the employers prefer to hire fewer people, as well as employees who work longer hours are more financially dependent on the firm. Also, the income that people earned determines the level of consumption. The more they earned, the more or luxury goods they are able to purchase.

I do not agree that working long hours encourages people to consume more. I have some working experiences before. After working for the whole day, I felt very tired and I thought money does not come easily, so I would not buy as much as I earned. I would like to save it and buy wait until I think the price of the good I want to buy is acceptable and it is useful.

Q4. Schor refers to the second structural feature that creates too much consumption as “the ecological bias”. What does she mean by this? Do you agree with her that it is serious?

Schor means that people overuse of the ecological resources of the earth, which account for global warming, species extinction, ecosystem depletion, water shortages, deforestation and soil erosion. I absolutely agree with her that overuse of natural capital is serious because the rate of resource use, pollution, and ecological degradation exceeds earth’s absorptive and regenerative capacities. We are already beyond a sustainable relation with earth. If rest of the world lived like the Americans do, need an additional four planets to support this lifestyle.

Q5. 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 individuals to resist or drop out of the consumption competition? Explain why or why not.

Yes, I agree with Schor’s contention that consumption has become a social competition because more and more people buy luxury goods to show off, which it stand for recognition, esteem, status, and even envy it confers. Especially young teenagers, they like to keep up with their classmates or schoolmates. As a result, branded goods were carried by students is obviously around the school.

The old concept of “keeping up with the Joneses” has changed because Americans’ consumer aspirations now has become more vertical, which is in terms of economic and social standing. Young Americans regarded Rockefeller or Bill Gates who makes $100,000 a year or more as an important aspirational target. They are more squint towards a decent or comfortable standard of living.

I agree that it is difficult for individuals to resist or drop out the consumption competition. Since everyone is using the latest products, we have to elevate ourselves as well. If we refused to upgrade our belonging, we will fall behind the others, it may account for inconvenience in our life. For example, nowadays, some homework has to type it out or submit online, if we do not have a laptop at home, then it will be troublesome and inconvenience. Thus, individuals are getting more and more difficult to drop put the consumption competition.


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