Saturday, August 23, 2008

The End of Consumerism

Well, I know that is a dramatic overstatement. But this is a blog....

What I think we can see however is something of a shift in values in the West. We always do in a recession. These are usually fairly superficial and would hardly constitute a challenge to consumerism as an ideology. Since the second world war it has become assumed that consumerism is some kind of natural state and that the best organized societies are those that place consumer satisfaction at the centre of all their major institutions.

This is already being challenged by the climate crisis and concern for the environment. A global recession and credit crunch will contribute to that challenge. We already see signs such as the "simplicity movement".

But the key here is demographics. The baby boomers undermined many social institutions and ideologies. But they championed consumerism with its emphasis on individualism and choice. They are being forced to reject it as they age and their income shrinks and of course they will eventually start dying. What we will see is how the millenials' values will be shaped by the coming austerity. That could be the key to a significant shift in Western social values.

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