“1. Abraham Maslow is famous for establishing a hierarchy of needs whose satisfaction, he argues,
motivates human actions. Please define these needs and give a couple of examples of how you can satisfy each one of them. Are there any needs in Maslow’s hierarchy that can only be satisfied through consumer products and services? Are there any that can only be satisfied through non-consumer products and services?
2. What is conspicuous consumption? Can you think of any cases in modern America where this type of behavior is exhibited? Where does conspicuous consumption fit in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?
3. What constitutes competitive acquisition? According to Schor, how has that phenomenon evolved in the 20th century? What role does the media play in all of this today?
4. Schor provides statistical measures that evidence an up scaling of the definition of basic necessities in the United States in the past 20 years and a corresponding increase in competitive consumption. Those trends proved strong even in the times of the economic recession of the early 90’s and of recent times. How can this be so? What has been the price paid by Americans for this continuing escalation in competitive consumption? In your opinion, is it all worth it?
5. Money, wealth, or capital is many times thought as one of the most salient determinants of status in society today. What is the difference between monetary wealth and cultural capital? Can cultural capital be bought with money? How does the last concept relate to the perpetuation of social class distinctions?
6. Give three examples of goods or services whose visible consumption is associated with social status in the United States? Give three examples of invisibles that do not have those connotations? Which ones do you think Americans favor today? Do any of those invisible consumable goods and services have other qualities more important to family life than social escalation? If not, can you think of any that do?”
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