Materialism from a Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
Some sociologists may center on the family tackling issues, for example, marriage, domestic violence divorce and child rearing. In addition, the sociologists may also try to get knowledge of how different cultures define these issues, and their effect on individuals and institutions. Other sociologists may explore larger social organizations such as businesses and governments analyzing their formations. In addition, other sociologists may focus on divisions within a society. From such a definition, a sociologist may study anything.
Application of Theory
Symbolic interactions comments that the society is in a continuous process of production and reproduction through the individual's interaction with the symbolic representations of the surrounding society. However, materialism raises a controversy on whether it is a positive or negative force in society. Puritanism discourages materialism consumption citing it as the major cause of distraction of society from the spiritual ways. Quakerism condemned the acquisition and multiplication of goods as an affront to simplicity. In the society, materialism is a potential cause of inter-group conflict, and materialistic individuals are susceptible to personal discontent. In addition, these materialistic people tend to be unhappy, engage in fast solutions, and susceptible to violence (Solomon, 1983).
The society considers materialism as having a negative social influence. However, some experts suggest that denying oneself material things may lead to psychological disabilities such as eating disorders, masochism, and low self-esteem, therefore, suggesting the need of emphasizing the need of materialism. From a symbolism interactionist perspective, materialism in the society is neutral. On the same perspective, symbolism defines self as being the natural and pervasive part of socialization. An insight into the meaning people or society attaches to materialism plays a role in making consumption behavior fruitful. With time, symbolic meaning moves from society to objects, then from objects to individuals. Acquisition of materials as an expression of symbols of security appears to be a cultural way of consumption.
Objects create a common language for that provides the three fundamental social processes in the society. That is integration, comparison, and differentiation. Integration comes in when goods produced for consumers, make the consumers come together. In addition, different people come together and form a nation unified by harmony, diversification, and consumption of common goods. At the individual level, objects provide a way for individuals to accept cultural values and social integration subsequently showing self-expression. Over time, the objects singularize by the individual and become part of the self-ideology. Any loss of the objects may lead to greater damage because of conceptualization of the objects (Solomon, 1983).
Previous research in Australia implies that materialism and its possession-defined success have a correlation with particular Type A behavior that includes competiveness and aggression. In Australia, there is a perception that materialism and Type A behavior fall under the same cultural value of work and wealth. Sociologists have divergent views on materialism, some associate it with the combination of envy, non-generosity, and preservation of personal traits defining themselves using material objects, a style of consuming, others motivated by the need for security, and an extreme desire for material possession.
A research on consumer behavior in Australia suggested that materialistic desires and aspirations might be associated with decreased content in life, increased anger, and depression. An explanation offered for this is that in a market that experiences constant fluctuations where the worth of a person depend on the material possession they have, someone else will always have more possessions, and possessions are likely to hold value for a short time. The result for this is frustration, which may lead to anger (Saunders, Allen & Pozebbon, 2008).
Australian materialists have disinterest in equality that supports the argument that comparisons in the consumer domain mainly aim at acquiring relative success or failure other than determining equity. Materialists support the view that materialism has a basis on social comparison, and this has support from researchers outside Australia. Some samples taken in Australia reveal the strong bond between individualism and materialism. Individualism aims at being the best creating an environment for competition and appears to favor some contemporary marketing practices. In addition, these materialists are more interested in pleasure and comfort and are less interested in the Australian environment (Saunders, Allen & Pozebbon, 2008).
Materialist tends to watch commercial televisions and is more conformist than those who are not materialist. These results are in support of the study of materialist outside of Australia. The…