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Critical Issues in Design - Essay Example

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In ancient societies only a few stratums of society could afford consumerism while after the Industrial Revolution nearly everyone in affluent societies could afford to buy in excess of their needs. These changes in consumption are a direct result of technological progress as well as changes in human attitudes over the years. The focus of this text will be directed to the human factors responsible for consumption and the nature of those factors. While referring to either consumption or consumerism it must be kept in mind that the more affluent stratums of society define the standards of consumption. The trends and consumption patterns displayed by these groups tend to trickle down into the rest of society. For example, fashion in clothes and foot wear is defined by the affluent sections of society such as celebrities, designers, socialites etc. but all stratums of society tend to follow these patterns. The real issue to consider here is why these trends are followed and whether the causations are active or passive in nature. It is pertinent here to define active and passive so that their use in this text is clarified. Active engagement refers to the participation of members of society in a manner such that they define their own identities and the conglomeration of these identities forms social structures. In contrast passive engagement refers to the participation of members of society in a manner such that their choices and will are dictated by certain individuals and groups. The formed identities are a reflection of the affluent individuals’ and groups’ desires and the resulting social structure reflects this strongly. Consumption is also affected by active and passive engagement of the society’s members. The resulting consumption patterns can be taken as independent consumption decisions for active engagement and influenced consumption decisions for passive consumption. The state of consumption in contemporary society is important in deciphering if consumption is actually an active or a passive phenomenon. The start of the nineties signaled a new era of consumerism. More and more people began attending colleges to make more money rather than to become experts in their relevant fields or to help others out. This change can be related closely to the overbearing influence of materialism on people’s everyday lives. The advent of the digital age brought an array of new products as well as the reduction in cost to purchase them. This influence was also helped out by the expansion of communication that brought these new products into the focus of nearly all stratums of society. These changes in turn affected prevalent culture directly and Madeline Levine criticizes this change in cultural values by remarking that this was “a shift away from values of community, spirituality, and integrity, and towards competition, materialism and disconnection.”1 Sensing this change businesses have also realized that the best targets of marketing are wealthy and affluent consumers. The choices and preferences of the more affluent consumers tend to trickle down and become standards for other consumers. The less affluent consumers tend to purchase new commodities and services to provide instant gratification and to create symbols that speak of their affluence in respect to society. This also indicates that both active and passive ...Show more
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Summary

Is consumption active or passive? Refer to theories of consumerism in your answer. In general terms consumption refers to the act of consuming while in terms of modern lingo consumption refers to the social and economic phenomenon based on a desire to purchase goods and services in increasing amounts…
Critical Issues in Design
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