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Thursday, February 24, 2011

'Higher' Things May Have to Wait?

How do Americans view "crude materialism"?:

Money and character, by Claude Fischer: One of the criticisms that foreigners (and many of us, too) have long had about Americans, going back to the earliest years, is how materialist and money-grubbing we are. ...
What appears to have changed historically is the growing distaste for open cash or crude materialism. It seems that, as Americans became more affluent over the last two centuries, as the middle class expanded, and as bourgeois sentimentality developed..., Americans became more uncomfortable with naked money, especially with mixing cold cash and warm relations. ... Some scholars have written about a “post-materialist” sensibility. As people became wealthier over several generations, they shifted their focus to “higher” things, like environmentalism, self-expression, and nurturing relationships. ...
Some observers suggest, however, that this post-materialist trend may have recently stalled or reversed. There are survey data indicating that American adults and American college students, in particular, have increasingly focused on money and material things since around 1970. One explanation — assuming that this change is real — is the increasingly visible widening of economic inequality since the ‘70s. ... Another explanation is that growing economic insecurity among middle class (and poorer) Americans since the 1970s — requiring, for example, more work hours from mothers — has necessarily and pragmatically re-focused Americans’ attention to money matters. “Higher” things may have to wait. ...

    Posted by on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 12:42 AM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (24)


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