Consumerism Essay

2263 words - 10 pages

In the 1920s with new means of advertising, consumerism started to take over the lives of people in society until the stock market crash and depression. Consumerism continued into the 1950s with the GI Bill stimulating the economy. It also started to be involved in foreign affairs. Consumerism in the 1920s was different then in the 1950s because of the financial status of the typical families.
Consumerism in the 1920s changed the typical household in many ways which directly affected the housewives. This is can be seen through the document Middletown that was published in 1929 which said, “Middletown is working so hard as more and more of the activities of living are coming to be strained ...view middle of the document...

“The abbreviated time spent today in preparation of food is reflected in such things as the increased use of baker’s bread and the corresponding decrease in home baking” (155) and the “increased use of commercially canned goods has meant not only less time spent in home canning, but a marked spread in the variety and healthfulness of the diet of medium and low-income families throughout the bulk of the year when fresh garden products are expensive” (156). Not only did the new appliances give wives more time, but it also allowed them to provide their families with better diets. “Today, more and more Middletown housewives are buying fresh vegetables and fruits throughout the winter” (157). The consumerism of these new household appliances and gadget bettered the lifestyle of the housewife because they gave her more time and made domestic activities much easier.
Beyond the appliances that were popular to keep with changing social norms, there was also the social standard of clothing which affected everyone. “So clothing plays more than the mere workaday role of protecting the body against inclement elements.” (159). Clothing during this time also served as an indication of a person’s social status in society. This pressure from society to fit in was not just put on the shoulders of the adults. “Just because they are somewhat déclassé socially, the compulsion to dress as the crowd does frequently rests as a doubly compelling necessity upon children of this class” (164). Children were also pressured from society to have certain clothing to be part of the in crowd. Society also did not single out the business man. There was pressure on them to follow the trends and support consumerism. “The attitude of the business men, as fairly reflected by the editorial pages of the press which today echo the sentiments heard at Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce is more conflicting but confusing, Within a year the leading paper offered the following prescriptions for local prosperity: “The first duty of a citizen is to produce”; and later, “The American citizen’s first importance to his country is no longer that of citizen but that of consumer, Consumption is a new necessity.”(88) Consumerism got business man to consume by advertising that it was important to buy the new appliances for the house and to keep up with the latest clothing trends because it helped stimulated the economy.
However, most families could not afford on their salaries to financially support the popular trends in the 1920s. “As vicinage has decreased in its influence upon the ordinary social contacts of this group, there appears to be a constantly closer relation between the solitary factor of financial status and one’s social status” (81). However, people did not necessarily have the money to afford these gadgets, but they did whatever it took to get the new items so they could be a part of a higher social standing. “Installment buying, which turns wishes into horses overnight, and the...

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