A recent CNN article has some interesting things to say about how the economic crisis is effecting the cultural view of possessions and spending amidst the upper and upper middle class in America:
With the economy in shambles and so many people losing their jobs and homes, it is no longer considered cool to brag about possessions and purchases.
For many during a deepening recession, conspicuous consumption is out and frugality is the new black.
“People have long used the way they shop and what they buy as a way to communicate with other people about their values, their tastes and their interests,” said Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California.
“A year ago, what was considered the ultimate status symbol would have been the chicest bag or the most luxurious outfit,” Yarrow added. “Now what’s chic is being the most knowledgeable and efficient at saving money.”
Yarrow said that despite the tough economic times, there are many Americans who still have disposable income.
Those people are choosing not to spend, she said, or making more thoughtful purchases.
This just underscores an utterly important point, especially in relation to Christian critiques of capitalism that turn into tirades against over-consumption. Frugality, thriftiness, and the old fashioned American work ethic is the stuff global capitalism is made of. Far from being a virtue, having people with disposable income stashing it neatly away because thriftiness is the new black is pretty damn sick.
The culture industry is remarkable efficient these days, wouldn’t you say?