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Old 02-02-2013, 11:14 AM
 
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How do neighborhoods with not a lot of consumer culture flourish? For example, in many traditional urban areas people prefer fresh markets so they can cook at home instead of eating out at a restaurant.

I have noticed that many cities in the US develop business based on 5 pillars:
i. fun and games (e.g. hobbies)
ii. vice
iii. basic necessities (food, water, education)
iv. preservation/conservation/mitigation/possession of life and property
v. style (customs, design, etc.).

To this end, how does a neighborhood where people aren't into the habit of making co-opting traditions and customs (surfin, yoga, dia de los muertos, "foreign" foods) - which is at the heart of fun and games and style - develop any economic base. There is definitely nothing wrong with planting your own food or cooking your own food as opposed to eating at a restaurant, but a tax base is not generated through the former.

The result seems to be some areas of our cities cannot support the level of development (roads, schools, etc) based on their commoditization which leads to ghettos.

Specific Questions
A. Have you studied this issue in depth?
B. What are some existing alternatives being practiced to develop without consumer culture (cities and practices)?
C. How were the projects above started or supported? By whom?
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:25 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Uh.
Well, first off the obvious. Non-consumer development is going to be very, very basic. Look at early subsitance agricultural tribes before they got complex. By around the 4th millenium BC writing was becoming pretty common place as written language was necessary. Consumerism at that point had become too complex to simply rely on memory for societies to function. Today, you'd probably be best looking at the primitive tribes in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of them are consumer societies, but it's probably the only place one sees any appreciable amount of non-consumer development.

Needless to say, most of what we take for granted isn't possible. Roads are going to be limited to walking trails organically formed by people trampling vegetation, sewers, electricity, and the like are pretty much out of the question. With only extremely basic tools being available, even most "off-the-grid-back-to-nature" concepts just can't work. For example, building a log cabin. Very difficult to do that with stones tied onto sticks.
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:38 PM
 
Location: Southern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muer22 View Post
Non-consumer based development
This is an oxymoron.

[development is, and is for, consumption]
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:55 PM
 
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People in modern society need to buy things, at least food. Theoretically in a rural area you could grow all of your own food, but it's very rare. So the question is what kind of stores will a town/neighborhood have, and how many.

There are individual and group differences in people's propensity to grow/build/make things. But people who make things usually aren't starting from nature level materials (e.g. logs). But someone might go to a lumber store to buy lumber to build a table, whereas someone else might just buy it. Some folks might go a hip DIY "crafts" store to get materials. Corporations pay market researchers a lot of money to figure out where they should place stores, individual entrepeneurs rely more on gut instinct and local knowledge.

Clearly, low income households are going to buy less, especially less new stuff. One form of economic development in low income neighborhoods is flea markets for used stuff. There's a big one in East Oakland, a big one on the east side of San Jose etc.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:06 PM
 
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There was a mix-up. I did state "non-consumer based development" in my title, but none of my questions were directed toward the absence of a consumer.

Consumer culture suggests that consumption - the act of buying goods or services - is a cultural activity, one imbued with meaning and driven not just by practical or economic factors. - Association of Qualitative Research

Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever-greater amounts - Wikipedia

So people buying flowers at the market every saturday, mining limestone and rocks to build a road, raising sheep to supply fabric for coats, are not example of consumer culture.

Non-necessities such as buying a car that goes 150 mph, buying athletic shoes when you never play sports, drinking Creatine mix for the sole sake of getting big, buying pre-made objects to play games to pass the time, even buying jewelry are examples of consumer culture.

Thank you Carlite for the example of the Market.
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Old 02-04-2013, 02:31 PM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
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arithmetic

total earned =A $ spent on necessities,B $ spent on non-necessities that are not part of consumer culture (inputs for DIY?, books?) C. $ spent on "consumer culture" D $ given to charity and causes, E $ saved


Folks can have little other than A because their human capital is very low (they can't make much) or because they choose to spend most of their time in leisure. latter can include classic hippies, but also includes many retirees and students.

Assuming an economically "healthy" area requires spending, and ergo there must be stuff spent on goods and services other than A and E, the question becomes changing the balance among B, C, and D.

The issues involved will involve how you define C, of course.

There are lots of people who believe that by buying locavore food, with less corporate involvement, going to independent retailers, etc, they are liberating themselves to that degree from the "corporate culture" But it sounds like you are setting a higher bar - but still I am confused - why for example are flowers more of a necessity than jewelry? Are you perhaps assuming jewelry has corporate involvement? But of course its quite possible to purchase jewelry directly from artisans, or from independent retailers who deal with artisans.
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Old 02-04-2013, 02:34 PM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muer22 View Post
Non-necessities such as buying a car that goes 150 mph, buying athletic shoes when you never play sports, drinking Creatine mix for the sole sake of getting big, buying pre-made objects to play games to pass the time, even buying jewelry are examples of consumer culture.
Again Im confused. What about buying a second practical car where one would do, or buying a slightly more upmarket car than absolutely necessary? Or buying a chess set?

There are several concepts here - necessity vs luxury, DIY vs premade, purchasing for use vs for status, etc. A. I don't think you have thought each concept through and B. once you do, I think you will find that mashing them all up leads to confusion.
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Old 02-05-2013, 01:46 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brooklynborndad View Post
Again Im confused. What about buying a second practical car where one would do, or buying a slightly more upmarket car than absolutely necessary? Or buying a chess set?

There are several concepts here - necessity vs luxury, DIY vs premade, purchasing for use vs for status, etc. A. I don't think you have thought each concept through and B. once you do, I think you will find that mashing them all up leads to confusion.
Consumer, consumer, consumer. Buying the first car was consumer behavior. Buying food is consumer behavior. Buying anything is consumer behavior. Luxury or necessity is totally irrelevant. You could label it as conspicuous consumerism versus non-conspicuous consumerism, but it's all just consumerism. All a consumer society is is one that predominantly acquires the final products they use by purchasing them rather than by working for them. I don't grow my own food, build my own car, write my own software programs. I pretty much exclusively consume what I need and in exchange for that I provide my services for others consumption.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:01 PM
 
105 posts, read 129,300 times
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My post is titled wrongly. The actual post is accurate.

I am not asking about the absence of a consumer. Consumerism and the existence of a consumer are completely different.

Consumer culture is built around a desire - it is arbitrary/discretionary spending - not necessarily a vendor, hence it is consumer-based not vendor-based. So corporations have no role in whether something is consumerism. In the flowers example, I failed to mention I am referencing flowers which are used in religious and cultural celebrations (e.g. Indian, Mexican). Jewelry, although not always, is bought not for culture but for desire for glamour, heightened personal image, etc. Wedding rings are an exception because they have been cultural since the early 1900s.

The absence of a consumer is a theoretical topic. I am thinking how can an area without consumerism can compete with an area with consumerism for school funding, political contributions, etc. Those aspects affect how an area develops and maintains its infrastructure.

I like the equation, but the it's hard to grasp because money spent on necessities because spending money is not always arbitrary. Money spent on a horse saddle, a yoga mat, dog training, hair relaxer, etc. can't be exercised by any member of the public. That brings me back to how do you increase the economic vitality without consumerism which is the arbitrary spending of money.

DIY doesn't factor in this post because, DIY projects do not enter the market place. Luxury items are consumerism. status is consumerism.

If anyone can purchase it given the money, its purchase is not expected, and it is not a necessity, it is consumerism.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:31 AM
 
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Lot of bad assumptions here. Even when you can grow your own food there are limits to what you can grow in a city things like lot sizes and seasons as well as available time to garden limit what you can grow. Therefore there will be some trade for goods that are available elsewhere or not convenient to produce in a city (how many cows live in town??). I mean you are not going to grow Oranges in Chicago. An urban garden is a supplement, not a replacement for the grocery store.

Ghettos are just places where the low income people live. Not everyone will make $100,000 a year. Now there can be a situation where a city no longer has the tax base to support the services it provides if you get too much really low income property about.
Also people prefer eating at home because it is cheaper, fresh market or not esp. when you have a more than one person to feed.
The tax base is generated by sales taxes on food (and other items), property taxes, and certain fees on government services and fees on government issues items (like car stickers).

Also all areas have consumerism it is just that poorer areas have less money to spend on other items. There are certain nesscities food, water, clothing, shelter and the more money you have after buying them the more money you have for other items. They develop differntly.
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