Simply phrased: Because building relationships takes time.

It is said that the way you relate to things reflects how you relate to people. For some, that means that if you care about things, then you don’t care about people. However, is caring about having things and actually caring about the things you own really the same? The anthropologist and specialist in consumption and material culture, Daniel Miller, suggests that there is no controversy between creating strong bonds with objects and the ability to create strong bonds with people; people that are able to do one, are also able to do the other.  A materialistic mindset, on the other hand, does not necessarily attach meaning to the object itself, but rather to the aspiration that the object represents, i.e. a nice car, or even having a nicer car than your neighbour.

The latter is what economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen named conspicuous consumption; consumption to demonstrate wealth or mark social status. Though the ideas of classes have changed since his time, these consumption patterns still exist – aspiring to certain possessions or activities because of the lifestyle they represent. And if acquiring such things would fulfil the dream of that lifestyle or social adherence, then this might work. But there is always something new that promises something better, or fashion and trends change to portray something other as desirable, and increasingly more frequently, it seems. These cycles are only a part of the explanation for the high level of consumption that we have reached in the western world, and is also linked to the discussion around how self-actualisation has become synonymous with possession of material goods – the focus on having and stead of being.

Slow materialism examines our relationships with things and each other, searching for consumption and use patterns that allow for creation of bonds with both the objects and the people we associate with them, be it the designers, makers or the gifters. It therefore shifts the focus to a consideration of well-being based on other aspects of life than material.

 

 

— Post imported from the SLOWMATERIALISM research blog. —

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