Consumerism, and consumerism or Konsumentismus (from Latin consumere - consume ), is an exaggerated consumption behavior for the purpose of social distinction or the quest for identity, meaning in life and happiness. The term is most commonly used in critical intent.


1899 stated the American sociologist Thorstein Veblen ( 1857-1929 ), a popular conspicuous consumption of the upper classes of the U.S., have only demonstrative character. Under " ostentatious consumption " he understood a consumer behavior that goes beyond the fulfillment of primary needs and serves primarily the raising of social prestige. In the 1920s and 1930s formed in the United States, a consumer culture: in the course of prosperity and Fordism, a consumer- oriented middle class began to emerge. The rapid development of technology and the growing range of consumer products (especially household appliances, radios and cars) could aspire to consumers for ever newer goods. This new materialism traditional values ​​and norms of small town communities were hollowed out, as the sociologist Robert Staughton Lynd and Helen M. Lynd, who demonstrated in their 1929 and 1937 published urban sociological Middletown studies.

In the interpretation of the Frankfurt School capitalist culture industry serves to obfuscate by creating false needs and a " false consciousness " the consciousness of the working class. In this respect, the consumerism constitutes a ruse by which this would be integrated into the capitalist system and prevented from rebelling.

After the Second World War, consumption patterns formed in connection with the increasing individualisation of society in Europe out, was operated in the consumption of identity construction. Since people could not derive from their group or origin, who they are, they define their self due to accumulation and consumption of carefully selected products. In the world of commodities so that the image of a product is more important than the actual use value. Was consumed not so much the product itself, as the mass media spread stream of characters, which appends it. The French sociologist Jean Baudrillard formulated in 1970, the fear that the mass media produced apparent collapse let the reality. The modern individual living in a fictional " reality show ".

Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1975 formulated his thesis, consumerism is a new form of totalitarianism, because it goes hand in hand with the claim to extend the consumer ideology on the entire world. One of its consequences was the destruction of the diversity of social forms of life and the leveling of cultures in a global consumerist mass culture, which with a "duty" charging the freedom of ideas for consuming and causing people to leave to meet with the " feeling of freedom " consumer imperatives. The corresponding dispositions that make an inner emptiness, boredom, weariness and chronic depression in the act of buying or consummation compensated belong, according to Erich Fromm character image of modern man. An exaggerated expression find the consumerist attitudes, passions and behaviors of so-called consumerist social character in the clinical picture of the shopping addiction.

As an " everyday consumerism " in the German Shopaholic studies empirically proven tendency of many people is described in the consumer societies to identify with products or services and to make their self-esteem depends on it. This products are preferred with commercial brand names and status lifted promises. As far as the Konsumismusbegriff is perceived as a pejorative, many sufferers reject it and prefer to justify their consumption with rational arguments; they reject the idea that they were "forced" to consume. People who affirm the ideology of consumerism, evaluate the purchased or consumed products are not as valuable in itself, but use them specifically as social status symbols and signals to surround yourself with like-minded people.

A popular criticism of consumerism John de Graaf, David and Thomas Naylor When submitted. They speak of " affluenza ," the abundance illness or " disease time consumption"; this made-up word combining " influenza " and " affluence " (prosperity, wealth, abundance ). The symptoms of this disease, the authors debts, overproduction of goods, tons of garbage call and anxiety, feelings of alienation and despair. Caused the disease was by the greed for more and more material goods. As a way of improvement of the opportunities the consequent departure from the consumerist lifestyle - in the sense of "voluntary simplicity " - to.


Turning away from the critique of consumerism, see proponents and Norbert Bolz consumerism as the global counterweight to religious fundamentalism. The consumerism is assigned the role to bring peace to the world, by leave granted to its positive effects all peoples. Western consumer culture, however, it will be extended without regard to the negative environmental impact worldwide. Even if he should ultimately remain victorious against all his enemies (religious fundamentalists, critics of globalization, consumerism and Growth critic), consumerism could be considered as " immune system of world society " ( Bolz ) perish only to itself. One optimistic view, as it represents Bolz contrary, Panagiotis Kondylis, although it the "end of ideologies " connects with the establishment of hedonistic lifestyles, but not the end of the conflicts in the world.


Part due to different translations of consumerism, there are conceptual ambiguities, because in addition to consumerism, the term " consumerism " is common. Consumerism ( from the English consumerism: consumerism ) is an ideology-critical expression from the social sciences, according to which personal happiness with consumption of economic goods is achieved. Consumerism describes a consistent consumerism, the consumption to a substitute religion. In this sense, consumerism is synonymous with consumerism.

An affirmative significance of consumerism in the economy. Here, this term is used mainly as an equivalent to the German consumer protection, particularly in terms of the consumer movement. It is about the systemic consumer criticism of abuses in the supply of goods and services and the legal protection of consumers in cases of questionable sales and marketing practices, counterfeiting, faulty product quality, incorrect information, etc.