‘If you were a miserable poor person you’re going to be an equally miserable rich man’, is a cliché often cited by self-help advocates in order to promote the belief that happiness cannot be acquired, but only found within oneself. Consumerism attempts to disprove this notion of happiness ‘not being for sale’ by promoting products promising to satisfy our most innate desires. By commodifying emotions firms are able offer individuals the opportunity to exchange hours of tiring labour for treasured memories and a sense of contentment— however fleeting it may be. Regardless of our stance on the virtues of consumerism, it is undeniable that the ideology has left a multifaceted impact on global society; shaping individuals’ perceptions of wellbeing and life satisfaction.
Consumerism as a culture advocates for the ever increasing acquisition of goods and services, and was propagated by the growing European middle class of the late 17th century. With the associated omnipresence of advertising, luxury consumption and household debt have since been powerful forces in determining both what is produced and what individuals wish to consume. The articles ahead explore the complex relationship between consumerism and happiness. Are we in truth more satisfied as a result of our materialistic culture, or has it merely forced us to live a life of superfluous indulgence?