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Materialism In America

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Materialism in America research paper due and don't know how to start it? How about like this?

If a cultural phenomenon can be judged by appearances, then it is reasonable to assume that most Americans are too materialistic. This can be seen in the following:

  • Size and type of houses being built
  • The use of self-storage facilities
  • The headline grabbing news that enough-is-not-enough for many business leaders in their insatiable quest for money and power.

Materialism and expansionism are the legacies of Westward expansion.

Typical suburban housing, tract housing, housing developments and planned communities depict America's fascination with garages. Most new homes are dominated not by a welcoming front-door entrance, but garages with two to five doors that proudly announce, "We have plenty of room to store stuff, maybe even a car or two, or three..." On any given day, it is possible to look into garages that have been left open, and there, stacked to the ceilings are piles and piles of things. Often the cars and boat are parked outside the garage because there is no room inside. Storage, then, indicates a trend for Americans to own much more.

Baby boomers have become the first generation of self-storage users, (according to a self-storage facility owner). While their parents saved and scrimped, not wasting anything and not accumulating much more than that could reasonably use, baby-boomers refused to accept that poverty and lack would be part of their lifestyles.

"We strive to acquire goods that will define us to ourselves and to others and somehow satisfy our human need to justify existence," writes Dr. Leslie Jermyn. If this is the driving force of materialism and consumerism then the cycle of consume-dispose-consume again is endless. Using material goods to define status, self-worth or importance is a dead-end for most people. This can be seen as industrial giants and the heads of multinational corporations have fallen victim to greed and subsequently destroyed not only their companies but also the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent investors.

On the face of it, materialism and consumerism are ways of life in a capitalistic society. Materialism itself is not necessarily a bad thing; however, when the central driving force of life is to acquire and consume, then a society lacks a spiritual center. It is doomed to implode. When Europeans first came to North America and drove off the indigenous peoples who were living off the land, conserving everything they could, and living lives that secured their future, it showed that the purpose of Americans is not to live simply but conquer and acquire and control. Thoreau tried an experiment to prove that one could live simply by a pond in a makeshift cabin. It changed nothing in American society and very few people care to duplicate his efforts. Americans are driven to consume and acquire. It is what capitalism is all about.

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