Materialism and its discontents
University of Wisconsin--Stout. Research Services
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With the ever-growing importance placed on material objects, consumerism as a social and cultural phenomenon has become an important area of research. The growing amount of research dealing with consumerism in modern capitalist societies has mainly dealt with the effects of materialism in regards to happiness. The main focus of this analysis was centered on desire and the perceived fulfillment of desire upon purchasing commodities and the perceived satisfaction individuals felt upon purchasing those commodities. The data from this study came from a survey distributed to students, which were analyzed using regression analysis. The data showed that even though consumers realize that their desires are not being fulfilled through the act of consumption, they are still more likely to have a feeling of emptiness when they are not able to purchase other goods that they desire. This paradoxical result is used to illustrate that the capitalist conception of desire—something that can be fulfilled by purchasing a commodity—is erroneous and leads to an endless construction of false needs and desires. The results from this study give us a better understanding of how capitalism manipulates desire in order to perpetuate consumerism.