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Consuming Blame Shorter Text And Images

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Consuming Blame Shorter Text And Images

  1. 1. Consuming America: What Have We Done to Ourselves? What Did (Are) They Doing to Us?   George Ritzer Distinguished University Professor University of Maryland
  2. 2. Three problems with Fordham symposium title “Consuming America: What Have We Done to Ourselves?” <ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>1-Consumption, production, “prosumption” </li></ul><ul><li>2-America in the “global age” (British more in debt; Dubai a consumer society) </li></ul><ul><li>3-What they had done to us </li></ul>
  3. 3. What have we done to ourselves? <ul><li>-Irrational exuberance </li></ul><ul><li>-“Hyperconsumption” </li></ul><ul><li>-“Hyperdebt” </li></ul><ul><li>-Wrong kind of debt </li></ul><ul><li>-Consumers got what they deserved </li></ul><ul><li>-“We” do bear some of the responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>-But, at least to some degree, “blaming the victim” </li></ul>
  4. 4. What have they done to us? <ul><li>Who are “they” (of course, in part, us)? </li></ul><ul><li>They created </li></ul><ul><li>-shiny new financial tools </li></ul><ul><li>-easy, even fraudulent, credit </li></ul><ul><li>-marketing, advertising campaigns </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>-managed great corporations into the ground </li></ul><ul><li>-designed great cathedrals of consumption to lure us into hyperconsumption </li></ul><ul><li>-cheap products </li></ul><ul><li>-extreme American capitalist system </li></ul>… What have they done to us? This leads us to buy things we don’t need or use
  6. 6. Dupes? <ul><li>“ Dupes” versus “Kings” </li></ul><ul><li>-Consumers have some power, rationality (bounded) </li></ul><ul><li>-Consumer systems also have great power, resources </li></ul><ul><li>-Consumer Protection Agency ( Elizabeth Warren) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Role of US Government <ul><li>Stimulate consumer spending </li></ul>Great contradiction: Government concern over hyperconsumption, hyperdebt, but can’t accept slow-growing economy
  8. 8. The “Evils” of Hyperconsumption: an Example <ul><li>The “mall girls of Warsaw, Poland” </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Cathedrals of Consumption as “Wienies” <ul><li>-Disney-“wienies” (mountains, castles) to lead consumers where you want them to go </li></ul><ul><li>-Wide applicability (e.g., “fantasy cities”) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Eiffel Tower (1,000 ft high) <ul><li>1889 World’s Fair (“dream worlds”); Space needle from 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. Eiffel Tower tallest structure in world until: </li></ul>
  11. 11. Chrysler Bldg, NYC, 1930
  12. 12. Empire State Bldg, NYC (1250 ft)
  13. 13. World Trade Center (taller than Empire State)
  14. 14. <ul><li>Taipei 101 (1441 ft) </li></ul>Shanghai World Financial Center (1555 ft) Petronas Twin Towers (Kuala Lumpur, 1482 ft)
  15. 15. Burj Khalifa <ul><li>Wienie of all wienies </li></ul><ul><li>-2,717ft </li></ul><ul><li>-160 stories </li></ul><ul><li>-taller than Chrysler atop Empire State </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>-plenty of desert </li></ul><ul><li>-Dubai as fantasy city </li></ul><ul><li>-lure </li></ul><ul><li>-made necessary by huge investment </li></ul>
  16. 16. Palm Islands <ul><li>  </li></ul>
  17. 17. The World
  18. 18. <ul><li>Little invested in high culture (opera houses, museums, symphony halls), but lots in malls (another kind of wienie) </li></ul>Dubai Mall (2008)-1200 shops, gold souk, aquarium (recently sprung a leak), ice rink Mall of Emirates- 400 metre ski slope
  19. 19. <ul><li>Ibn Battuta Mall -themed a la Disney </li></ul><ul><li>Wafi Mall -pyramid (a la Luxor in Vegas) </li></ul><ul><li>Mercato Mall -simulated architecture, themes </li></ul>Planned (delayed) Dubailand - 107 square miles, 6 themed worlds, 2x as large as all Disney lands/worlds
  20. 20. Las Vegas
  21. 21. Modern Cruise Ships <ul><li>wienies not because of height, but sheer massiveness </li></ul>Royal Caribbean “Oasis of the Seas”
  22. 22. Why? <ul><li>-Baran and Sweezy’s monopoly capital </li></ul><ul><li>-price to sales competition </li></ul><ul><li>-sales -spectacular cathedrals, landscapes of consumption </li></ul><ul><li>-large numbers of consumers, hyperconsumers, hyperdebt </li></ul>
  23. 23. From Cathedrals to Dinosaurs of Consumption (Who are the wienies Now?) <ul><li>Dinosaurs - extinct; possibility of extinction-“sickly symbols of a bankrupt era, way of life” </li></ul>Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
  24. 24. International City, Dubai
  25. 25. Echelon, Las Vegas, 3 towers halted mid-construction
  26. 26. Fontainebleau, Las Vegas, bankrupt, on hold
  27. 27. Future of Cosmopolitan, City Center ($11 billion; most expensive private construction project in US history)
  28. 28. <ul><li>Lake Las Vegas-bankrupt in 2008; Ritz Carlton bankrupt, to close in May, 2010; Casino Montelago closed in March 2010; golf courses in foreclosure, mall nearly empty </li></ul>
  29. 29. Malls - Randall Park Mall (Outside Cleveland) closed in 2009
  30. 30. Malls - deadmalls.com
  31. 31. Xanadu
  32. 32. “ Oasis of the Sea” <ul><li>“ a dinosaur- a floating emblem of a bankrupt era” </li></ul>
  33. 33. What are “Our” (US) options? <ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>a-Return to an agricultural age? </li></ul><ul><li>b-Return to an industrial age? </li></ul><ul><li>c-(Return to) the age of services? </li></ul><ul><li>d-Back to consumption? </li></ul>
  34. 34. A Likely Future Scenario: <ul><li>  a-Our global economic position after WW II (production) and after 1950s (consumption) -both unsustainable </li></ul><ul><li>b-Adapt to a relatively smaller economy </li></ul><ul><li>c-Global redistribution of wealth </li></ul><ul><li>d-Global economic equality is welcome (easy for me to say) </li></ul><ul><li>e-New inequalities are arising </li></ul>
  35. 35. Hope? <ul><li>a-Creative Destruction </li></ul><ul><li>b-Comparative advantages of the US </li></ul>