Consumer Culture Essay

824 words - 3 pages

“What is consumer culture?”

In the late 19th, early 20th century a new phenomenon arose. Along with the development of industrial advances and urbanization of the emerging American culture was the growth and subsequent domination of the “consumer culture”. Consumer culture is a term that goes hand and hand with the American way of life today, but in those days it was a new and unique experience. Along with the development of the mail order catalog, advertising became a focal point of American mass media. Advertising can be traced back as early as Franklin’s “Philadelphia Gazette”. After the turn of the century hand bills were given in the streets listing goods and services that many merchants could provide, and the New York Sun boasted that, along with news, readers could view advertisements in full print. The U.S government realized the emergence of such a strong and forceful medium and that prompted them to slap the Stamp Act on any print advertisement way back in 1765. There are many facets of consumer culture that reach from retail and merchandise and to sports and leisure. The rise of baseball as a popular sport deemed it America’s favorite pastime (which is another example of consumer culture; giving something a label makes it more accessible to the public. Plus if its AMERICA’S favorite pastime, Americans of the day should love it, right.) As well as football being established with rules and regulations, driving the competitive nature of the game way up, and boxing
became the medium for new gladiators. When the public wasn’t working, they enjoyed to relax and be wowed and awed. The sign above the early amusement park at Brandywine Springs offered this advice: “Let All Who Enter Here Leave Care Behind.” This is a pretty slick analogy for the consumer culture, forget you worries and your work week buy things, buy fun…buy, buy, and buy. If you won’t, don’t worry your wife will. The middle class house wife found release in shopping trips, and with the rise of affordable and luxurious items, coupled with a decent, stable middle class allowed the women of the day to focus some of their energy of the fancy items for homes for wear and for leisure. When the Industrial Age seized America, and the shifting of the all work and no play work week to an 8 hour day, it offered those from rural areas a glimpse at life off the farm. This led to even more migrant workers moving into the cities. Without the...

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