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American Values: The Role of Materialism in American Society

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Materialism in America isn’t something new, rather it’s something that has been a part of American society for some time now. Materialism is defined as valuing material possessions and physical comfort over spiritual values. In today’s society, we have hundreds if not thousands of examples of people obsessing over material things. Most Americans believe that buying will bring fulfillment, happiness, a higher social standing, and connections with others. In short, the more you have the better you are as a person. This is the current status of American society full of consumers wanting to buy more and more even when they have no money to spend.

Technology is always improving, getting better but also getting more and more expensive. Apple and Samsung are American companies that focus on the selling, design, and development of electronics. Both of these companies are considered industry giants, making a variety of products such as phones, computers, and smartwatches. Apple, which is known for its iconic iPhone, released its new iPhone 11 starting at a piece of 1,200 dollars in the United States. Samsung also releases its new Galaxy note plus phone with a starting price of 1,000 dollars. These price ranges are the highest the general smartphone market has ever seen. Yet these companies have no trouble selling their products to thousands of Americans. Jefferson Graham says the iPhone set a new sales record in 2017, surpassing their previous year by 211 million phones. Jefferson also states that while iPhones are the most popular in 2017 looking at the list of most sold tech items of 2017, it is easy to see the dominance these brands have. With the Galaxy smartphone being second and the Apple watch coming in fourth. Buying the latest phone, computer or smartwatch can sometimes make people fill fulfill or make them believe they have a higher status until, of course, a new model comes out. This shows materialism in American society.

Americans also spend thousands of dollars on housing. One might argue that it’s because Americans want comfort, and they want a sense of relief. This, however, is starting to change because Americans are spending more and more on housing expenses. The typical expenses for the America home could be narrowed to rent, bills, and insurance. This has started to alter with expensive furniture and appliances becoming a must-have in a household. Items such as high-speed internet, the biggest and best plasma screen TVs, touch screen refrigerators to name a few adding to the expenses that Americans have for their homes. American society will make you feel as if you’ve failed if you don’t have a big house with all the must-have items, making people force themselves into buying and buying. Hoping this will give them a sense of fulfillment that won’t last long because just buying doesn’t give that long sense of fulfillment.

The fashion industry keeps growing with people spending wild sums of money on clothing. Once again, this illustrates the materialism in American society. Brands like Nike, Adidas, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci are some of the examples of American companies that make millions of dollars every year from the sale of clothing items. Having clothing from a well-known brand gives people a sense of privilege and belonging to a higher economic class because of the money spent on your clothing. Clothing is one of the best examples to show the materialism of American society. Clothing has only one use which is to be worn and nothing else, yet clothing companies have no issue charging hundreds of dollars for common clothing items like shirts, shoes or jeans. Joel L. Young talks about dealing with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, emotions that make people become materialistic and even compulsive spenders. American materialism has reached an all-time high as people are willing to pay the same amount of money for a Louis Vuitton shirt as they are for their rent or mortgage.

American society is materialistic, many value physical and material items above obtaining education and having intrinsic values. There is a lack of search for items that hold intrinsic value. As Ryan T. Howell declares Americans have a misconception that people who are materialistic or being materialistic will obtain happiness, a higher social standing, or better well-being however this is false. Change is possible but only if as a society we stop judging people based on their economic income and items of possession. If we focus on achievements that don’t revolve around money and possessions.

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American Values: The Role Of Materialism In American Society. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from
“American Values: The Role Of Materialism In American Society.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
American Values: The Role Of Materialism In American Society. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Jun. 2022].
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