Conspicuous Сonsumption Of Buyers In A Mall Free Sample

In 1912, sociologist Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) coined the term “conspicuous consumption” to describe a fundamental change in people’s orientations. By this term, Veblen meant that our previous emphasis on hard work and saving was being replaced by an eagerness to show off wealth by the “elaborate consumption of goods.”   In The Theory of the Leisure Class (1967-1899), Veblen described early wealthy U.S. industrialists as engaging in conspicuous consumption – the continuous display of one’s wealth and status through purchases such as expensive houses, clothing, motor vehicles, and other consumer goods.

As we have learned, the 60s was a decade of financial stability, spawning an age of consumerism as Americans began to accumulate material goods and began to internalize the concept of the “American Dream.” At that time, conspicuous consumption was not limited to the wealthy, but available to just about everyone. We have discussed the ideology of capitalism and how this has set the stage for economic power to be in the hands of a few at the expense of many. In light of our current economic situation, for this project we will be looking for evidence of this “conspicuous consumption” and the implications of this for us as individuals and as a society.

For this project, you are going shopping!    No…not to spend money, but to observe how others are spending their money. You are to go to a local department store such as Target or Wal-Mart and observe what people are buying based upon gender, race/ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status. What do women buy?    What do men buy?   What do seniors buy?   What do teenagers buy?   And so forth.

Prior to going into the field, you should conduct some preliminary research on recent literature on consumerism in the United States. Look for articles based upon recent studies (no more than 5 years old) of people’s spending habits.

You are to spend 1–2 hours observing people, taking notes. Note what they are buying based on the various demographics above. Note how they are paying for their purchases. Are they paying with cash or credit cards?   Note the types of products they are buying. Do they pass over the “generic” and instead purchase the name brands?   Are they buying more sale items than regular priced items?   Are they purchasing more “necessities” as opposed to “luxuries?”   (Yes, a bag of chocolate would be considered a “luxury”!)

After you have completed your observations, you are to write a 2–3 page paper analyzing what you have observed.

  1. What conclusions can you draw from the spending habits of people based upon their demographics?
  2.  What evidence do you see that we are living in a consumer- oriented, materialistic culture?   Do we buy impulsively or is there more deliberation over what we buy?
  3.   Do you see evidence that we are truly living in “hard times” based upon how much we are spending, what we are buying, how we are paying for it, and such?
  4.  Referencing your outside sources, do you feel that current research on consumer habits is valid?   Why or why not?
  5.  With the spread of capitalism throughout the world, what evidence do you see that consumerism and materialism are also spreading? Give at least one example.

Your project should be 2–3 pages in length

  •   Double spaced
  •  #12 font –Times New Roman
  • 1” margins on all sides
  •  Separate cover page and reference page
  • A minimum of two reliable, scholarly sources


Consolation By Boethius: An Analysis Of Prose And Poetry

Consolation by Boethius: An Analysis of Prose and Poetry

            Consolation by Boethius, was written in 524 A.D. while Boethius was in prison waiting his execution.  In his writing, Boethius questioned how God could withdraw his support for an individual and how his friends and supporters could turn their backs on him so quickly.  He ponders whether his fate was destined by God or if he has a choice in his destiny.  Consolation is written in both prose and poetry.

            It starts out as a narrative and end up in a discussion.  Beothius writes the poem of each section and then he tells it in story form.  He changes to prose to explain the poetry.  Readers often take the validity of prose more seriously so he uses it to confirm what he has written.  He knows that this will be the last piece that he will write and he wants people to take it seriously.

            Beothius uses many of the same writing techniques in the prose as well as the poetry.  His use of imagery is spectacular.  He is frustrated with philosophy because it has gotten him where he is.  He can use his questioning techniques much better when using prose, however, he is able to evoke the emotions of the reader when writing in poetry.   In the beginning of Book 1 philosophy has chased the Muses of Poetry away, but she talks in to a degree in poetic phrases.

When she saw that the Muses of poetry were present by my couch giving words to my lamenting, she was stirred a while; her eyes flashed fiercely, and said she, ‘ Who has suffered these seducing mummers to approach this sick man? Never do they support those in sorrow by any healing remedies, but rather do ever foster the sorrow by poisonous sweets. These are they who stifle the fruit-bearing harvest of reason with the barren briars of the passions: they free not the minds of men from disease, but accustom them thereto. I would think it less grievous if your allurements drew away from me some uninitiated man, as happens in the vulgar herd. In such an one my labours would be naught harmed, but this man has been nourished in the lore of Eleatics and Academics; and to him have ye reached? Away with you, Sirens, seductive unto destruction! leave him to my Muses to be cared for and to be healed. (Boethius Book 1)

  Contradiction is created which is symbolic of the situation that Beothius finds himself.

            Beothius makes the point that ignorance and failure to recognize reality is the real danger.  He believes that until a person grows his/her mind true happiness cannot be achieved.  He does not feel that philosophy and questioning is wrong, but those who have misunderstood him and what he has done. The price that he will pay will be worth it.  His writing style of incorporating both prose and poetry is intriguing.  The flow of language and the alternating styles of writing are quite effective.

Then was dark night dispelled, the shadows fled away, and my eyes received returning power as before. ‘Twas just as when the heavenly bodies are enveloped by the west wind’s rush, and the sky stands thick with watery clouds; the sun is hidden and the stars are not yet come into the sky, and night descending from above o’erspreads the earth. (Beothius, Book 1)

Is the perfect example of how his writing style brings into the picture that he is trying to create.

            The Consolation is one of the best examples that the modern world has of the Middle Age. The work has stood the test of time because of the style of writing used by Beothius.  The misconception that creativity and intellectual thought was dead at the time is proved wrong through this fantastic piece.

Works Cited

Beothius, Ancius. The Consolation of Philosophy. 524 A.D. New York: Penguin Books. 1999.

Considering The Things They Carried: Drawing Meaning From Symbols

            In O’Brien’s work of fiction, The Things They Carried, the American soldiers in Vietnam are described as having carried, or “humped”, many tangible objects which serve as symbols or representations of their personalities and desires.  First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is mainly described as holding onto letters from a girl back home named Martha.  He carries these letters, as other soldiers hold onto other objects, because these letters hold value for him.  As the story transpires and the soldiers march on into the Vietnam battlefields, the symbols connected to the various objects sometimes change or alter in meaning.  Jimmy holds onto these letters in the hope of a future love, living in a dream of good things to come in the future.  However, it is important to note the alteration of the letters from being clutched by Jimmy and serving as a connection to a love dream to Jimmy burning the letters and adopting a more stern approach to the possibility of a future with Martha, placing more attention on his troop of men, the battlefront, and facing the reality of soldiering on in battle.

            Objects serve to represent the stories and challenges of the lives of the individual men, sometimes the symbols attached to the objects having varying interpretations due to the lack of subjective explanations.  For example, Henry Dobbins, a larger man, carries extra rations, candy bars, a heavy machine gun, his girlfriend’s pantyhose, perhaps symbolizing an eating disorder, greed, finding solace in his meals, taking on a lot of weight, burdens, lust.  Another soldier named Ted Lavender carries drugs, tranquilizers, “dope”, because the experience of being in battle in so frightening for him.  Here the tranquilizers symbolize fear, sleep, death, withdrawal, and it is no surprise that he is killed later in the story.  His poncho, having protected Ted from the rain, serves as his makeshift coffin and transport as he is carried away in a helicopter from the fields.  This soldier’s death effectively moves Jimmy to realize that he has become lost in Martha’s letter and his dream world, moving him to tears and propelling him to adopt a more serious responsibility for his troops and their presence in the war.

            The quantity of the amount of objects the men carry, rations, gear, weapons, also varies depending on the difficulty of each mission.  Here, the absence or presence of less or more objects becomes a calibration of the level of safety or danger to which the men are exposed.  At one point, Jimmy dreams again of a future with Martha and imagines himself carrying nothing, them being lifted and floating by the lightness of their loads.  The presence of extra objects becomes symbolic of burdens, a personal token, pill, or condom serving more as an unnecessary attachment or need which creates even more of a burden than perhaps is really best for the soldiers.  The shedding of excess objects becomes a symbol of the man who is able to soldier well and independently, who can focus on the immediate threat and march with a lighter load.  Although the amount of things carried increases with the difficulty of each battle, success is marked by a lessening of the difficulty of war and a reduction of items transported by the traveling men.

            All in all, external, environmental props or objects serve well to illuminate and highlight character personalities and plot meaning, drawing together themes within works of fiction.  O’Brien does a wonderful and thorough job of using these special and unique props to cast light on the lives and experiences of the Vietnam War soldiers.  Jimmy in particular moves thorough a poignant metamorphosis where he matures in his sense of duty to the present realities of battle and gives more caring attention to himself and his men, rather than the dreams which had become burdens and distractions.  The carried things hold definition for the lives of each unique soldier, but they also point to burdens which can be shed to lighten the load of each man while being involved in war.

Works Cited

O’Brien, Tim.  The Things They Carried.  Random House, Inc., 1998.

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