Full Text

Hyperconsumption/Overconsumption

Jeremy Schulz


Subject Sociology » Consumption, Environmental Sociology

People Baudrillard, Jean

Key-Topics capitalism, commodity, consumerism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Extract

Social critics and social scientists, on observing the transformations of American and Western European societies throughout the twentieth century, have relied on terms such as “overconsumption,” “consumptionism,” “new consumerism,” and “hyperconsumption” to convey the increasingly central role played by the acquisition and consumption of goods and services in the lives of individuals, the shaping of cultural forms, and the dynamics of social organization. This family of terms has a long history in the American context, where “consumptionism” entered the popular lexicon in a 1924 article by journalist Samuel Strauss. Like many other social critics of his time, Strauss sought to expose the ethical bankruptcy of a society in which a concern for the standard of living dominated all other aspects of national and individual welfare. Decades later, in The Affluent Society (1958), the economist John Kenneth Galbraith savaged the “overconsumption” fueled by the growth of mass markets and American merchandisers' insatiable appetites for huge sales volumes. The term “overconsumption” also figured prominently in the critiques of the American lifestyle formulated by social critics and social scientists during the 1970s and early 1980s. Moving beyond earlier critiques, these treatments took aim not only at the ethical consequences of overconsumption, but at the effects of consumption-oriented ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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