Consumerism is a cultural ideology that influences the American life. The thesis tries to clarify the definition of consumerism through literature research and straightens out the formative process of American consumerism through many studies, including its historical process such as economic basis, social structure and the mechanism at the level of human nature. At the same time, the paper also analyzes the impact on both the macro dimension of the world and on the microcosmic dimension of American society, including positive and negative effects, which presents a more comprehensive research. And this paper focuses on the analysis of the rise and effects of American consumerism, and endeavors to reach a comprehensive and scientific understanding in the process of literature view. And through it, we would form our own analysis and conclusion.

There are three parts in the paper, including introduction, body and conclusion. The first part introduces the concept of consumption and the definition of consumerism presented by different scholars. The second part mainly elaborates on the background, process and causes of consumerism. Meanwhile, both the positive influences and negative effects are mentioned here. The development process has several stages. The early 20th century saw the true meaning of consumerism. In the 1920s, the United States entered the consumer era. And from 1929 to 1935, with the gradual popularization of electricity and electricity, consumerism further developed. After World War II, the United States first has a consumer society mainstream value orientation. After the 1960s, consumerism had the rapid development and spread. Furthermore, American consumerism has many causes, including the fundamental factors: economic reasons include the expansion of capitalism reproduction and the appreciation of modern capital, which lead to more dependence on the commodity market; political reasons include government acquiescence, indulgence and encouragement; psychological reason is that people try to change the social inequality to satisfy vanity; in terms of cultural aspects, the culture is increasingly secular, which is the basis of spiritual culture.

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The sustainable development of American consumerism has had varying degrees of influence on society and humanity. In the human behavior, the only interest on the material first was evident. And people wanted to enjoy excessive consumption, indulgence in desire, and considered hedonism as their ultimate goal, only concerned about self-demand. These affected people’s outlook on life and these values hindered the sound development of personality. The impact on society is manifested that it stimulated world economic development, accelerated the process of globalization, and at the same time created a polarization in the global economy. It can also accelerate the consumption of the earth’s resources, undermine the global ecological balance, worsen the human living environment, and promote the social utilitarianism.

The last part draws the conclusion of this paper, including the main findings of the paper, implications and the limitations.


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