- Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Ronald Paul Hill and Ryan Langan
Chapter 9: Modeling non-consumer behavior: consumption-as-restriction and corporate social responsibility
I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse: borrowing only lingers and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable. (William Shakespeare) Western society is replete with media, messages and motivations to enter into exchange relationships with the marketplace (Berger 2000). Stimulation from the vast consumer culture exaggerates the importance of goods and services to our lives as well as our identities as members of the human community (Belk 1988). Nevertheless, the intensity with which marketers bombard our senses suggests that external forces drive consumption without regard for our ability to conduct transactions. As the quotation from Shakespeare implies, consumers expect to continue buying in an endless cycle of material accumulation. While there are groups of individuals who opt out through lifestyles of voluntary simplicity, they do not represent the way typical people hope to find satisfaction and to create distinctiveness (see Bekin et al. 2005). Despite our needs and desires, many consumers face a number of restrictions on the acquisition and consumption of marketed commodities. From a poverty perspective, early research findings by Lewis (1959) reveal a defined subculture of severely restricted consumption, and scholarship by Caplovitz (1963) demonstrates that those individuals were preyed upon by unscrupulous vendors. Later efforts by Andreasen (1975; 1993) and by Hill (2002; Hill and Gaines 2007) show that poor consumers still represent a significant portion of the US population and endure higher prices and lower quality than affluent counterparts.
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