Sunday, October 04, 2009


If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email or RSS.


Steve Smith said...

Insightful piece. Although I agree with most of what this chap presents, I have a problem with the pervasive dichotomy he seems to reinforce: on the one hand that material goods are used to usurp, gain and reinforce status, and on the other that what people really desire is to feel secure, needed etc. Although I think the former has much validity, it seems more the case that we tend to use material goods to gain security. So, when he says that once we exceed a particular income than happiness is achieved if we are better off than others, I would say that this is because others create a 'norm' for security. It's not that we merely want to be better off than they, it's more that we tend to believe that they are more secure and that if at least we can achieve the norm (and better still, above the norm) then we will be secure. This has little to do with status unless status is about security and safety. In which case, the identity that we attempt to generate through artefacts, is actually about being secure rather than merely 'better' than others.

Al Shaw said...

I wonder if it's a bit of both, in that people's felt needs are often quite different.

For some, "security" (however defined) is a high personal value; for others, it really is more about "status" in the sense of appearing wealthy, powerful and sucessful as an end in itself.

To me, the important point the clip renforces is that the current levels of consumption in highly developed countries is absolutely unsustainable in global terms.