Free Essay

Ethnocentric Cospicuous Consumption


Submitted By pri220
Words 1119
Pages 5
Discussion Questions
May 1, 2012
Alfred Jones

Discussion Questions
1. What is ethnocentrism? Are ethnocentric values reflected in mass media? If so, provide examples. If not, why not?
Ethnocentrism is defined as “the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture.” I think this is just a fancy word used for playing up people’s prejudice and discrimination. Whenever there is a case of someone or group of people that believe that they are better than another for any given reason, an unjust bias comes into play.
Many forms of mass media display ethnocentrism in their marketing tactics, whether it is hidden or in full view for the naked eye to see, it’s there! Ethnocentrism can be concealed from the unsuspecting consumer so well that, unless being instructed to dissect the intent of the product/ good at hand, people may be gladly accepting a slap in the face with a smile.
An example of how ethnocentrism is reflected in mass media is the use of bill boards: where they are displayed, and who and what’s displayed on them. In urban communities, where the majority of the residents tend to be middle/ low class citizens, there are bill boards advertising the sale of liquor using faces of well- known celebrities to endorse the products. At just about every free-way exit, there are advertisements for casinos, drug help numbers and locations, and other displays targeting a certain class of people.
When commuting through the suburban areas, all of these” less than pleasing” advertisements are not crowding the skyline or in plain view, as if to say “the suburban communities are filled with better citizens than those of the city”. What an insult! Are we not all human beings capable of and born into a world of sin? Suburbanites come to frolic and mingle with the folks of the city, then go back to their “perfect world” where there aren’t any uses for the problem gamblers’ hotline number. There’s no need for the sign that tells young women that there is help and other options if faced with unplanned pregnancy. Is this because the people who populate the suburban areas are superior to people in urban neighborhoods? That they don’t make any of the mistakes that people living below their financial means make? Or is it simply that the suburban communities deserve to be well kept and not overrun by huge displays on every corner coercing them to buy, live, and behave in a certain manner? Anyway these ethnocentrisms are made to be received I believe that they are wrong.
Another way the mass media reflects ethnocentric values is by the commercials aired on the T.V. Companies portray to people that if they consume or purchase certain products, they then will be accepted into the “in crowd” or a better social circle. People take drastic measures to fit in and feel like they’re a part of something, so many end up taking the bait thinking that certain “products” will enhance or upgrade them to fit into a better class. In my opinion, if the class that a person is trying to affiliate themselves with won’t accept them as they are (standard), without the upgrades, well shame on them and the lost persons with self-esteem issues too.
2. In what ways are the values of conspicuous consumption reflected in media advertising, including print and electronic media? Provide an example to illustrate your understanding of conspicuous consumption.
In the comedic commercial for the Straight Talk phone company, the marketers present an older couple leaving out of a grocery store in which the lady is on the phone yapping and tries to unlock the car using the remote. To her surprise the remote doesn’t work and she begins to question her husband. In response the man tells his wife that the remote doesn’t work because it’s not their car she’s trying to unlock: they drive a station wagon. As the woman stands there with a look of disbelief, the commentator pops in and states,” the so now you think you drive the same car as a hip-hop mogul effect” cause you saved money on your phone bill.
This goes to show that people purchase things just because they have money, not necessarily because they need or want these objects. Though the station wagon was suffice before, the woman felt she had a couple of extra bucks so why not go “purchase crazy”. This is a sample case of conspicuous consumption when people buy things not because those things are essential parts of life, but to show others that money is at their disposal. A lot of the rich and famous people of the world are products to this conspicuous consumption, buying expensive things to prove to others their place or monetary worth in the world.
I’ve often heard people in the music industry making claims that “It ain’t tricking if you got it” meaning that it’s not wasteful spending if you have more where that came from or if you have an abundance of money. I don’t agree with this idea; it seems like a waste of money when people can always do “something better” with it besides spend it for show.
When companies mail out coupons, they are wooing people into their stores on the idea that they will be saving money; this is not always the case. Companies do some mailings by demographics, using the people of a certain monetary class to buy certain products that cost a higher or lower amount. Everyone doesn’t get the same choices in every category. In doing some comparison shopping on my own, I found prices to be higher in the urban area that is if the certain store exists in the area. If a person were to go to the same store in a suburban community, the prices are lower for the same identical product. With all of this being stated, it will cost the person who could be considered “at or about poverty level” more money just to have some of the same items as the more “well off” person. So just to give the illusion that a person is in the same income bracket as the next by what is purchased, it may leave the less able person in a worse place than where they began- another example of conspicuous consumption.

Ethnocentrism. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved April 30, 2012, from website:

It ain’t trickin if you got it.(n.d.) Urban
Retrieved April 30, 2012, from Urban website:

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