The chapter is a unique look at consumerism and its effects in society seen through gangster culture. In this context we can say, so many societies with rapidly rising populations now seek affluence as their primary domestic goal, the environmental, and psychological and other issues raised by consumerism are being faced on a scale. For instance, the undesirable side effects of intensive consumerism that once primarily concerned highly industrialized societies are now faced in a number of other countries. Finally, the transition from consumption tied to satisfaction of what are perceived as basic needs (secure shelter, food, clothing and so on) to consumerism (the preoccupation with gaining ever higher levels of consumption, including a considerable measure of conspicuous consumption of status goods), seems to be more pronounced as societies become wealthier. Hence, a reexamination of the goals and lifestyles of mature capitalist societies is particularly timely as done in the book. The chapter explores its different manifestations and its effects on competitiveness should the need and urge to gain ever higher levels of income be curbed. It then considers whether greater income, and the additional consumption it enables, produces greater contentment and assimilation of gangster in the society. However happiness does not seem to be the issue with gangsters as higher levels of income do not buy happiness, then the question arises why do people work hard to gain higher income The answer is complex. In part, high income in capitalistic consumerist societies "buys" prestige; others find purpose and meaning and contentment in the income-producing work per se. There is, however, also good reason to suggest that the combination of artificial fanning of needs and cultural pressures maintain people in consumerist roles when these are not truly or deeply satisfying. Consumerism sustains itself, in part, because it is visible. People who are "successful" in traditional capitalist terms need to signal their achievements in ways that are readily visible to others in order to gain their appreciation, approval, and respect. They do so by displaying their income by buying themselves (or, in earlier days, their wives) expensive status goods
Early in the twentieth century, commentators on American life clearly differentiated towns and cities as socially different--the two kinds of place sustaining very different ways of life.
Demographically, American society experienced a spurt of rapid urbanization, based on many native rural folk flooding into the cities and a massive influx of immigrants. Ethnically, assimilation processes instilled in foreign-born citizens a new identity as Americans in ever-increasing numbers and fostered the formation of powerful ethnic sub communities. The trends pertaining to student peer groups' lifestyles and behavioral codes prefigured the subsequent ideological and generational conflicts. Participants in the rebel or bohemian subculture that blossomed forth after 1910 were at once excited about ideas and hedonistic--like their fraternity-sorority counterparts--but they also recognized that beyond campus there existed a world of economics, politics, labor unrest, and the arts. So the trends launched by members of the student subculture quickly began to penetrate into the larger social order. These changes also pervaded the gangster and criminal culture. Economically,