The Puzzle of Modern Consumerism

Campbell explains how the failure to explain the new propensity to consume that facilitated the consumer revolution is due to the absence of a theory of modern consumer behaviour, as all existing theories are distinctly ahistorical. What distinguishes modern from traditional consumer behaviour is the ability of modern consumers to generate endless new wants, whilst also being attracted to, rather than fearful of, novelty. He points to the inability of economic theory to explain where wants come from (and indeed go to), demonstrating that neither instinctivism (which assumes wants to be inherent and latent), nor manipulationism (which attributes god-like powers to advertisers to create wants in consumers), or indeed Veblenesque emulation (which assumes that consumers are driven by the need to ‘out-do’ their peers) can explain these distinctive features of modern consumerism.

Released: Replika 21–22, 117–137.
Replika block:
Györgyi Bodon