The Productified Way of Life

by William Regan, Loraine Germann



If the central value in a culture reflects its essence, the product is the undisputed symbol of this age. Because of its central position in our collective value system, it has been denounced for the perversion of American moral standards and character, yet simultaneously hailed as the hub of American industry and affluence. It has provided a popular common denominator for the nominally classless, yet status-seeking people of the U.S., as of September 1965. The product as such has frequently been discounted by intellectuals as a means of satisfying man's more important or higher needs and wants. They grant that physical products are necessary to satisfy the basic physiological needs but question the use of the product to satisfy an expanding range of psychological and socially derived wants. An imposing number of contemporary scholars and critics have blamed the faults and excesses of our materialistically dominated culture upon the product, the businessman seeking profit, the capitalistic system, or some combination thereof. It is the hypothesis of this article that the popular and persistent lure of the product has been derived from its adaptability in serving as a vehicle of desire satisfaction. Other explanations have been offered to show why the product has retained its popularity in the face of persuasive urgings to move on to higher consumption levels where greater emphasis might be placed on the arts, education, recreation and reflection.

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