California State University, Long Beach
Shoppers in a large store.

Are Americans the World’s Greatest Consumers?

Portrait of Dr. Terry Witkowski
Dr. Terrence H. Witkowski. Photo by Trang Le

It’s no big secret that present-day Americans acquire, use and dispose of a mind-boggling amount of goods and services every day. Simply put, we buy a lot of stuff. We’re consummate consumers. But have you ever stopped to think about what influences our consumption behaviors, and how those behaviors have evolved over time?

Professor Terrence H. Witkowski of Marketing and Director of the International Business Program in the College of Business Administration has an idea and will share it in  his upcoming book. Dr. Witkowski is preparing for the launch of his new book, A History of American Consumption: Threads of Meaning, Gender and Resistance, scheduled for release in October, 2017.

“The United States has been near the forefront of global consumption trends since the 1700s, and for the past century and more, Americans have been the world’s foremost consuming people,” Witkowski said. “By examining the core phenomenon of product consumption and its meaning in the changing lives of Americans over time, my hope is that this book will make a valuable contribution to literature on the subjects of consumption and its causes and consequences.”

Informed and inspired by the literature from consumer culture theory, as well as drawing from numerous studies in social and cultural history, A History of American Consumption tells the story of the American consumer experience from the colonial era to the present in three cultural threads — possessions and consumption; the gendered ideology (peoples’ attitudes toward roles), and  and resistance through anti-consumption thought and action (opposition to marketing).