Youth Consumerism: A Cultural–Historical Approach

Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 16)


The term consumerism is employed in different ways, denoting (a) advocacy and rights of consumers or (b) a doctrine of or preoccupation with increased consumption of goods. Whereas constructivist studies suggest that consumerist behaviors can be changed through instruction, cultural–historical approaches emphasize the existence of any characteristically human behavior in the relations that make human society. The result is that whatever we observe as behaviors, psychological functions, and forms of personality among youths have been forms of human relations now attributed to the individual. This chapter develops a cultural–historical approach to the phenomenon of consumerism that affords understanding why youth consumerism is a mirror of societal consumerism at large. In the way consumption is the converse of production, consumerism is the converse of the ideology of every–increasing growth of the economy on which current conceptions of the world are based. From this theoretical basis, very different conclusions are drawn for what may be done in the contexts of schooling to curb any excessive orientation to the satisfaction and creation of ever–increasing consumption. Freedom from the oppression of consumerism requires conscientização, critical consciousness and critical action.


Consumerism Oppression Needs Choice Freedom Conscientização 


  1. Freire, P. (2005). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  2. Giesler, M., & Veresiu, E. (2014). Creating the responsible consumer: Moralistic governance regimes and consumer subjectivity. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(3), 840–857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Heidegger, M. (2006). Gesamtausgabe. I. Abteilung: Veröffentlichte Schriften 1910–1976. Band 11: Identität und Differenz [Complete edition. Part 1: Published writings 1910–1976, vol. 11: Identity and difference]. Frankfurt/M, Germany: Vittorio Klostermann.Google Scholar
  4. Hill, J. A. (2011). Endangered childhoods: How consumerism is impacting child and youth identity. Media, Culture and Society, 33(3), 347–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Innerschweizer Erziehungsdirektoren Konferenz (IEDK). (1997). Lehrplan Naturlehre—7. Bis 9. Schuljahr [Curriculum sciences—7th to 9th school year]. Ebikon: Zentralschweizerischer Beratungsdienst für Schulfragen. Retrieved from
  6. Jacobs Foundation. (2014). Juvenir–Studie 3.0: Geld—(k)ein Thema: Wie es um die Finanzen der Schweizer Jugendlichen steht [Juvenir study 3.0: Money—a/n (non–) issue: The state of the finances of Swiss youth]. Retrieved from
  7. Leont’ev, A. N. (1978). Activity, consciousness, and personality. New Jersey: Prentice–Hall.Google Scholar
  8. Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1978). Werke Band 3 [Works vol. 3]. Berlin: Dietz.Google Scholar
  9. Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1983). Werke Band 42 [Works vol. 42]. Berlin: Dietz.Google Scholar
  10. Roth, W. M. (2013). Technology and science in classroom and interview talk with Swiss lower secondary school students: A Marxist sociological approach. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 8(2), 433–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Roth, W.-M. (2015). Schooling is the problem: A plaidoyer for its deinstitutionalization. Canadian Journal for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education, 15(3), 315–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Roth, W.-M., & Lucas, K. B. (1997). From “truth” to “invented reality”: A discourse analysis of high school physics students’ talk about scientific knowledge. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 34(2), 145–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. United Nations. (2009). Revised guidelines on cooperation between UNDP and the private sector. Retrieved from
  14. Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky, vol. 1: Problems of general psychology. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  15. Vygotsky, L. S. (1989). Concrete human psychology. Soviet Psychology, 27(2), 53–77.Google Scholar
  16. Vygotsky, L. S. (1997a). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky, vol. 3: Problems of the theory and history of psychology. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Vygotsky, L. S. (1997b). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky, vol. 4: The history of the development of higher mental functions. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Vygotsky, L. S. (2010). Two fragments of personal notes by L. S. Vygotsky from the Vygotsky family archive. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 48(1), 91–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Weber, H. (Ed.). (2001, March 6). Schulreise: Die tipps der experten [The school trip: Advice from the experts]. Bildung Schweiz thema, 5, 1–39. Retrieved from
  20. Zavershneva, E. (2010). The way to freedom. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 48(1), 61–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Zeyer, A., & Roth, W. M. (2009). A mirror of society: a discourse analytic study of 14–15–year–old Swiss students’ talk about environment and environmental protection. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4(4), 961–998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Zeyer, A., & Roth, W. M. (2013). Post–ecological discourse in the making. Public Understanding of Science, 22(1), 33–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations