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Example essay on Materialism: Materialism involves the importance one attaches to their worldly possessions.

For a materialist, possessions are central to his or her life in that he or she feels that increased consumption increases his or her satisfaction with life. Materialism may become a problem in situations where the physical goal of consumption overshadows all other goals of self and development. This does not imply that all material desires are bad. In fact, the acquisition of material possessions may begin to interfere with other important aspects of life. At that point, materialism is likely to become harmful to the person or to society. What is the relationship of materialism to individuals ethical beliefs? Do consumers who are more materialistic have different ethical standards than those who are not? On one hand materialism may increase a societys economic wealth and material possessions. On the other hand, there are those who would argue that materialism has a negative overall effect on the quality of life. Possessions can be the focus of ones life, becoming more important than religion, friends, and achievements. In making possessions the majority component for achieving happiness, the more materialistic person might be willing to bend ethical rules to gain possessions. What is it that makes us want something so badly? Certainly many marketers have an interest in perpetuating materialism, and as the issue of marketings social responsibility grow in significance, the topic of materialism surfaces. While many marketing efforts encourage materialism, the materialism that is encouraged may have negative societal effects. Materialism is associated with a greater drive to acquire the goods that marketers provide for consumers. If consumers move away from their focus on material acquisitions and towards non-material quality of life concerns, then they will consume less, leaving the marketers with fewer consumers and less demand for their goods. Though this may be an enormous explosion in the camp of those marketers who provide services that are purchased to increase the quality of life, it would certainly have a negative impact on those companies that provide the goods which feed a materialistic quest. Generally, marketers know the essence of their motivation. They have a goal in mind. However, if they see that what they are manipulating to achieve is wrong, will they abort, or will they proceed with their plans just for their own success? Plato suggests that there is a knowing within us that already exists to help us quickly and easily conform to what we see, but turns in the opposite direction, causing us to look away from what we see (Plato 518). In essence, act like what we see really isnt there. So, many marketers may have self-interest in encouraging materialism. But if materialism is not in the best interest of society, then such encouragement could be considered socially irresponsible. Plato states that there are virtues of the soul that could be developed, just as you can develop your body by exercise, like the virtue of wisdom which always remains, could be useful, profitable, or hurtful and useless (519). Seems like we juggle these virtues and drop them (the ones we want to ignore) on cue. On one hand, materialism may lead to lower ethical standards. As a person starts their materialistic quest, people, religion, values, etc., seems to become less important as possessions become the focus of his or her life. So, when faced with an ethical choice, the acquisition of the goods may begin to take priority over ethical values. Not to mention that fact that the confinement or constraints of time may compound this. Meaning, there is a drive to acquire more and more things, but there is only a limited time to do so, and shortcuts may mean ethical compromises. A materialistic person may be less likely to take the ethical high road when doing so means sacrificing or even waiting to obtain the material things he or she so

deeply desires. On the other hand, it could be argued that people who are less ethical tend to be more materialistic. As one strives to meet their social and/or spiritual needs, their focus often at times moves from things to people. In contrast, when one focuses on material possessions, such social and/or spiritual needs begin to take a back seat to acquiring possessions. Concern for others and/or spiritual convictions often, though certainly not always lead to higher ethical standards. Does the way we were raised have anything to do with our materialism? Plato believes there is a relation between the sensual pleasures afforded to us in our youth and our exposure or our lack of exposure as it relates to the character of our soul. According to Plato, certain tendencies when we were young, and certain gratifications (even eating and drinking), which like heavy weights came with birth, had the ability to bring us down, and turn our affections to subservient and menial things (519). Are we targeted by marketers in our youth? If so, it does raise some interesting issues as it relates to the social responsibility of marketers. If encouraging materialism also encourages lower ethical standards, then it could be certainly argued that it is not in societys best interest to encourage such materialism. If marketers do encourage materialism, knowing that it will result in the additional burdens of society associated with lower ethical standards, then it could also be argued that they are acting in a socially irresponsible manner. However, implications also exist to the opposite (i.e. being less ethical tends to make a person more materialistic). Though encouraging materialism here would not lead to lower ethical standards, it would amount to appealing to those holding lower ethical standards. This could be assumed by some as condoning or even encouraging such lower ethical standards. In conclusion, people who are more materialistic seem to show less concern for ethical issues. Although this does not necessarily mean all people who are materialistic have low ethical standards. Indeed, it is possible and maybe even likely that many materialistic people do have great concerns for ethical issues. However, on average, those being more materialistic do show less concern for ethical standards. In addition, the possibility does exist that causing one to become more materialistic may also cause him or her to have lower ethical standards. If this is indeed the cause, then it could be argued that it is socially irresponsible for companies, at some point, to sell their products by encouraging materialism.