consumerism and identity (part I)

The principle of modern culture is not restraint but the expression and remaking of the ‘self’ in order to achieve self-realization and self-fulfilment.

There are different ways in which consumption influences or impacts underlying identity of individual and collective psyche and the culture it produces. Consumption patterns occur as a result of marketing and advertising techniques and consumers’ needs and wants.

Are we as consumers manipulated by marketing powers, believing that we will have no identity unless we buy the products that will inevitably personify us?

Or do we build personal and collective identity – including that of the marketing forces – by dictating what goods and services are produced and available to us?

Continuous consumption becomes a method of substitute for the genuine development of self or, conversely, consumption paradoxically reinforces aggressive elements, thus making it more difficult for instinctual desires, if any indeed to exist, to find acceptable outlets.

There are differences in how and what we consume, and those differences are manifested in polarity between the tastes of luxury or freedom, and the tastes of necessity, that is to say that our greed – the desire for extravagance – is driving this force of consumption, fuelled by the market forces.

Modern commercial society confronts materialism, egoism, cultural banality and emptiness of ‘self-interest’, generating wealth but not value, which are not true sources of the self and cannot be produced or sustained through self-interested reason.

Palahniuk’s tag line from Fight Club – the things you own end up owing you – fits perfectly into this discourse, whereby we believe that things that we own will liberate us or provide us with more or better opportunities, but our possessions eventually start to control our behaviour and our emotions.

Check out the whole anti-consumerism sequence.

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