Text of Globalisation, Consumerism, and Education Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley, B.C
Globalisation, Consumerism, and Education Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley, B.C.
In this talk... Deepen and expand on keynote in three areas: Religious choices of Enlightenment Making of consumer society Injustice of global market Open discussion on how it has shaped education
Argument of the Keynote Conversion of West to new vision of life: Progress by science and technology to better world One version of that story was Adam Smiths economic vision Given social and economic shape in the Industrial Revolution Dominant worldview in West in 20 th c. Produced consumer society Now major unifying power in globalisation
Deepen and broaden keynote Religious choices of Enlightenment
The Making of Economic Society... at the time of the Enlightenment we begin to see the separation of economic from social life. The processes of production and distribution were no longer indistinguishably melded into the prevailing religious, social, and political customs and practices, but now began to form a sharply distinct area of life in themselves - Robert Heilbroner
Adam Smiths vision Progress toward material prosperity Scientific and technological organisation of production Free market coordinates all forces Economic growth: end of society
Every style of culture is in turn related to the religious question of how people view the ultimate meaning of their life and society. - Bob Goudzwaard
Ultimate meaning of post- Enlightenment West End: Economic growth, material prosperity, consumption of goods and experiences Means: Market, economic processes, technology
Economic organisation of society Illustration of queen bee in beehive Queen bees task to produce eggs Whole hive functionalised and directed toward that task
Romans 1.18-32 and Our Story Worshiped and served created things: Western culture more and more focusses on economic sphere of life God gave them over: Creation of wealth, consumer society, accompanying joys and ills
Classical Economics and Deism Deism separates laws from Gods presence and authority There was no longer a divine law- giver whose commands are to be obeyed because they are Gods Laws but are necessary relationships which spring from the nature of things (Montesquieu). As such they are available for discovery by human reason. (Newbigin)
Classical Economics and Deism Deism separates laws from Gods presence and authority Mechanistic economic lawsanalogy with physics Equilibrium theory in economics is based on a false analogy with physics (Soros). ... analytical and mathematical reason is not content to deal with physics or astronomy; it must extend its operation into [economic realm] (Newbigin).
Science of economics The modern science of economics was born.... It became the science of the working of the market as a self- operating mechanism modelled on the Newtonian universe. The difference was that the fundamental law governing its movements, corresponding to the law of gravitation in Newton, is the law of covetousness assumed as the basic drive of human nature (Newbigin).
Abdication of Responsibility The idea that if economic life is detached from all moral considerations and left to operate by its own laws all will be well is simply an abdication of human responsibility. It is the handing over of human life to the pagan goddess of fortune. If Christs sovereignty is not recognized in the world of economics, then demonic powers take control (Newbigin).
Margaret Thatcher TINA: There is no alternative You cant buck the market
Classical Economics and Deism Deism separates laws from Gods presence and authority Mechanistic economic lawsanalogy with physics Adam Smiths invisible hand Self-interested individuals acting according to self-interest harmony of conflicting interests material prosperity trickle down to prosper poor
Three Summarising Comments Free market is good but twisted by natural law theory Economic life is one part of social fabric but twisted by totalitarian influence Market and economic processes are creational but twisted by messianic expectations ... free markets are the best way of continuously balancing supply and demand, but in the contemporary ideology of the free market... we have an example of something good being corrupted. Newbigin
Religious Choices of Enlightenment Vision End of human life: Material prosperity Trust in market and technological innovation to guide us to better future Mechanistic understanding of law
Deepen and broaden keynote Religious choices of Enlightenment Making of consumer society
Consumerism: Pervasive and foundational reality of our day Consumer capitalism, both for good and for ill, is a pervasive and foundational reality of our day. - Rodney Clapp
Making of consumer society ... manufacturing, production, and consumption... (Wells) So, how did this happen? Well, it didnt just happen. It was designed. ( The Story of Stuff ) Growing gap between production and consumption
Consumption as a way of life There was a huge gap... between production and consumption. How to close it? Industrial productions momentum had already built up, so cutting production was not feasible. Manufacturers decided instead to pump up consumption, to increase demand to meet supply. But they realized consumption was a way of life that had to be taught and learned. - Rodney Clapp
Making Consumption a Way of Life Planned obsolescence: Designing stuff to break down or be unusable quickly Perceived obsolescence: Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary.
Advertising Average North American exposed to 3000 ads per day Creating new desires Advertising aims to teach people that they have wants, which they did not recognise before, and where such wants can best be supplied. (Thompsons Red Book on Advertising, 1901)
Advertising and the Gospel of Consumption Average North American exposed to 3000 ads per day Creating new desires Creating dissatisfaction
The early part of the 20th century was the advent of the consumer economy. [B]usiness leaders realized that in order to make people want things they had never previously desired, they had to create the dissatisfied customer. Charles Kettering of General Motors was among the first to preach the new gospel of consumption. GM had already begun to introduce annual model changes in its automobiles and launched a vigorous advertising campaign designed to make consumers discontent with the car they already owned. The key to economic prosperity, Kettering said, is the organized creation of dissatisfaction. (Jeremy Rifkin)
Advertising Average North American exposed to 3000 ads per day Creating new desires Creating dissatisfaction Selling the good life Advertising and related media have served and still serve as important shapers of an ethos that the good life is attained through acquisition and consumption, and that would have its inhabitants constantly yearning for new products and new experiences (Rodney Clapp).
Why sociologists study consumerism Inequality of consumption ( 1 / 5 population accounts for of consumption) Commodification of many areas of life Critique of injustices of economic globalisation that feeds consumerism Heavy cost of consumerism on the environment - Douglas Holt and Juliet Schor
Deepen and broaden keynote Religious choices of Enlightenment Making of consumer society Injustice of global market
Economic Globalization Economic Enlightenment vision Global market Unjustly created market
Unjust global market Market is created: Response to Gods ordering word vs. deistic, mechanistic view of economic laws Unjust market: Third World exclusion Excluded from capital
Exclusion from Capital Growth of financial industry 17% annually (vs. 3% in real market) 10% of economic transactions to 95%! Repercussions for Third World Excluded from capital needed Investment concentrated in wealthier countries Decisions made not basis of need but on fastest and biggest profit
Unjust global market Market is created Unjust market: Third World exclusion Excluded from capital Excluded from currency Excluded from decision-making power Excluded from markets
The United States and Europe have perfected the art of arguing for free trade while simultaneously working for trade agreements that protect themselves against imports from developing countries. - Joseph Stiglitz
Asymmetric globalisation... free trade has not worked because we have not tried it: trade agreements of the past h