The affluenza disease a criticism of consumerism and capitalism

Their critique leads them to identify the need for an "alternative political philosophy", and the book concludes with a "political manifesto for wellbeing".

Consumerism examples

Advertisers are careful not to fear-monger in the case of child-rearing, this because they know that their market is savvy and suspicious—for which reason baby food companies now hard-sell their powdered baby milk in the Third World, alongside tobacco companies selling cigarettes. There is a possibility that if James had taken more time to weld his material into one book, he might have achieved a comparable shift in our understanding of mental health. On this account, producers can, through marketing, steer consumers. One has always renovated or extended the home for the usual reasons: the roof is leaking, the children need more room, etc. But he concludes with a disclaimer that these are "hares which other researchers may wish to chase", which is a bit of cop-out. But now the social practice of home renovation and extension gets colonised by the idea of self-realisation: in addition to fixing the leaking roof and giving the kids more room, it is also, and is also marketed as, an opportunity to beautify the home. Similarly, this framework allows one to identify what a more rational system of production and consumption would look like—slower, less complex overall but also more regionalised, such that goods and services do not flow with equal ease between any two points, in which the rate of technological change does not overwhelm people, and in which only those technologies are introduced which fit well with existing systems, hence do not tear the social fabric in rapid, unmanageable ways. He takes pot-shots at Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene for providing some intellectual cover, and even at Richard Layard's influential advocacy of cognitive behaviour therapy, accusing it of being a sticking plaster for a sick society which encourages individuals to think positively rather than challenge the status quo. A 38; my translation So according to Kant conscience is essential to self. All in all, modern advertising indoctrinates wide ranges of consumer into believing that consuming such and such goods and services is a constitutive part of living a life socially acknowledged as successful and of status, hence a life which is happy. A symbolic meaning has thus been autonomously imposed on a product by a consumer market unintended by producers or marketers. As the ego consumans, it is condemned to consume, however it ultimately chooses to consume. But at the individual level of producer-consumer relations hit-and-miss is all it needs to be.

The single most important idea to which James needs to apply all his missionary zeal is that mental well-being is a public health issue. If you don't succeed, there is only one person to blame - never mind that it couldn't be clearer that it's the system's fault, not yours.

Similarly, as managements respond to increased speed, competition and complexity, they standardise work practices and make them ostensibly measurable.

Benefits of consumerism

Many of these public attempts encouraged mass consumption of domestic food to help put back into the economy and support the war. There's a problem with this paper. It is therefore a condition under which people flourish, not simply as human beings but as rational ones. Affluenza, p. And the claim that society requires radical transformation is an essential feature of a seriously left politics. But Selfish Capitalism stokes up relative materialism: unrealistic aspirations and the expectation that they can be fulfilled. There's plenty of reason to sympathise with what he is trying to do, but the strategy runs the risk of denting the impact of both books. James asserted that societies can remove the negative consumerist effects by pursuing real needs over perceived wants, and by defining themselves as having value independent of their material possessions.

Some indication of the argument for this latter claim is necessary: Firstly, being a self requires a radical context-sensitivity which truly brings one into a situation in all its potential uniqueness, that is, permits one to see what this particular situation requires in a fashion which does not consist solely in the blind activation of habitualised behavioural routines or inference from previously acquired general propositions.

By contrast, fear-mongering is more prominent in ads for cleaning products.

effects of consumerism

There are interesting issues to draw out of Fromm's work about how our mass consumer societies, ironically, cripple personal agency despite their avowals of individual choice, but James doesn't dwell on this. Sassatellip. He's also a modern day missionary, fired with a passionate desire to relieve the growing emotional suffering in rich countries, which has led the World Health Organisation to predict that depression is on track to become the second most widespread disease, after heart disease, in the developed world by And of course beautification is a form of self-realisation for many.

Similarly, sexual practices have become susceptible to the idea that they are afflicted by a number of hitherto undiagnosed treatable pathologies, e. It's now been resurrected as a new book detailing the academic research that underpins the ideas he explores.

Example of affluenza

If you don't succeed, there is only one person to blame - never mind that it couldn't be clearer that it's the system's fault, not yours. In fact, Schor and de Graaf et al. What does the damage is the combination of inequality with the widespread relative materialism of Affluenza - placing a high value on money, possessions, appearances and fame when you already have enough income to meet your fundamental psychological needs. These pressures lead to "psychological disorders, alienation and distress", [8] causing people to "self-medicate with mood-altering drugs and excessive alcohol consumption". It is misleading to describe consumers simply as participants in a social practice. An example would be the increase in the kinds of device one has in houses these day. The goods are secondary because first of all you buy into a brand, then you buy the products. In itself, this economic inequality does not cause mental illness.

This will indicate how better to proceed in developing the kind of critical theory sought by Hamilton and Deniss, one which could both contribute to revitalising left politics and intimate how better to shift consumption in a more sustainable direction. But now the social practice of home renovation and extension gets colonised by the idea of self-realisation: in addition to fixing the leaking roof and giving the kids more room, it is also, and is also marketed as, an opportunity to beautify the home.

Affluenza case

So I want to say, without being able to argue properly for it here, that the capacity to mediate the requirements of social roles with the idiosyncrasies of the situation is constitutive of being a self. He refers to an "invisible hand" which suppresses those ideas which challenge selfish capitalism, lulling us all into a false consciousness, but one wishes he would come clean, name the culprits and provide an explanation of why and how they hoodwink us. But is James the meticulous researcher or the proselytiser? Reading example essays works the same way! These days, however, it is maintained and amplified by commercial interests concerned to sell baby products. In fact, agency remains a confused thread in his argument: exactly who is the selfish capitalist? One can create new demand by extending existing markets, that is, simply creating new buyers. It is therefore ontologically guaranteed that the postmodern consumer will consume. In other words, it becomes receptive to novelty, fashions and fads. The first time I really thought consciously about the issue of overconsumption was in when I did graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts — Amherst. So the theoretical framework sketched here allows one to see consumer society as potentially one in which the rational perversely becomes the irrational and vice versa. There is much tearing of hair across the media and advocacy of nose-pegging on these pages of the "grin and bear it" variety. These latter are all conditions which optimise for the exercise of reason qua practical wisdom.
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Oliver James; Selfish capitalism is bad for our mental health