In this modern era, generally youth are immersed in cultures of consumption in such a way that almost every aspect of their life is touched by a buy-and-consume modality. In particular, today’s children are increasingly experiencing the effects of consumer culture at unprecedented levels of involvement. It is necessary, therefore, to examine the impact of consumerism to assess and identity formation and development in youth.
Young people are receiving an endless barrage of material messages encouraging purchasing behaviour and consumption that impact the self-image. Indeed, children from the ages of 4 to 12 have increasingly been defined and viewed by their spending capacity. Girls especially are targeted by marketers to sell them a whole line of products they ‘need’ to emulate a feminine ideal. There is mounting evidence to suggest that the structure of childhood is eroding, and children are suffering from serious physical, emotional and social deficits directly related to consumerism.
A decade ago, India did not have a single mall, but, now, there are malls in all cities. It is an enormous shift in a nation, which, for decades, proclaimed itself as a socialist state. After Independence in 1947, India celebrated swadeshi, or locally produced goods, and Mahatma Gandhi dreamed of a nation of small villages earning their living through cotton spinning and farming.
Not everyone is happy about this new stage of consumerism. Rights activists worry that the poor are being abandoned and nationalists wonder if India’s native industries are being swallowed by global giants.
Ever since the economic reforms of 1991, foreign investments have behaved like fairy dust to our country. A whiff of foreign investments here and there, and, magically, people became happier. The great Indian middle class suddenly had a lot more money at hand, and thus grew India’s great story of consumerism.
(To read the full article… subscribe the January issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2016)