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Treadmills of Production Theory and the Pressure of Getting a Degree

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Environmental Sociology is a term on how we describe a big range of research in which we try to understand the relationships between the environment and human development. One of the considered founders of Environmental Sociology was Allen Schnaiberg, he came up with the theory known as treadmills of Production. This theory is about an economic exchange and how rapid economic development grew after World War II. This led to a big demand of rising technologies and natural resources, new industries were emerging quickly to produce new products. The more and more products were made affected natural resources and the degradation of the environment. The way the treadmill comes into play is by explaining how society is running in place and never going anywhere. In this paper I will be talking about how this theory relates to the pressure of getting a degree, advancing to a higher degree, and levels required to gain a good paying job.

From Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs we have learned that when basic needs like food, water, sleep, clothes, shelter, and sex are not fulfilled, people tend to fill those needs above all else. When a basic need is fulfilled the treadmill continues to seek completion with another need. The second tier of what we need is safety, it falls under subjects like economic, social and vocational security. There are many steps within the triangle of Hierarchy of needs, however, it leads to Esteem and self-actualization. These needs are a process where an individual will seek confidence, achievement, and respect by others. In this society we can never be content with just the basic needs, we strive to find something better and higher, and this is where the treadmill of consumption and development come into play with the advancement of school and employment. There is a never-ending cycle of consumption in regard to labor and production which decrease a person living standard and increases destruction of the environmental resources that require production advancement.

The same concept is applied to educational advancement, the only way to survive in this modern age workforce is to have an advanced degree. People have come to view certain wants into necessary needs and is becoming harder to achieve this modern standard of living. It is now required to be in debt for a higher education, as well as have a stressful work life to continue consumption of a treadmill creating more education and work. Due to people wanting more, costs go up, production goes up, industries go up, leading to a never-ending cycle. Having a decent employment does not cut it anymore, the middle class is not middle class anymore and in terms becomes a challenge to enjoy the American lifestyle we have modernized.

I believe that Malthus theory, where he explains how the population is a major problem also helps aid in the question of competition and consumption. His theory emphasized more on food production, but it can also be in regards to how much more resources are being used for growing industries. It applies very well in the fact that achieving higher success and getting higher waging employment involves exceeding the requirements for good jobs. However, with this process just comes more esteem needs, desire for reputation or respect and achieving higher prestige. With the advancement of technologies and manufacturing growing at a rapid rate. Obtaining these jobs require people to have to have a four-year college degree at the minimum, putting on pressure and stress on society.

The biggest impact of how the treadmill of production affects on people is the pressure of higher education to be able to work on automation and high-end technology products to work in these industries. Technological innovation drives production at a high rate, making companies seek individuals with graduate degrees. Innovations like these usually are not offered to the lower common class worker and in terms leads people to the massive amount of debt. Students need to purse years of education to advance their degrees, to advance their certifications paying for thousands of credit hours. The stress of acquiring and securing a high paying job and coping with the amount of debt is a huge effect of this treadmill. Since World War II the united states has increased production and consumption where unfortunately is damaging to our environment with its limited resources. It has also led to competitive and high-end innovations to produce the demand the world needs. People have been stuck in the never-ending cycle of constantly needing to improve, to constantly be a product of a society in which they need to live a certain lifestyle to live. The point is, achieve a higher education, strive for higher degrees and the world will give you the opportunity to secure a good job to be apart of the modern living standard.

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