In the spirit of noding your homework, I decided to node my class. Well maybe not all of it. I am starting with the syllabus, the required text (which I will be adding the list of things we have to read as I hear about them), and notes and journal entries about the stuff I am reading as it comes up. This is a once a week class for 16 weeks,

Political Science 2800: Civic Orientation & Consumerism

Course Description:

"This course begins with an examination of the concentration of wealth and its relationship to political power in America. Next, students will explore methods of political empowerment such as voting, lobbying government and grass-roots organizing. Moreover, in addition to American values of liberty, equality, justice and tolerance, modern society has added efficiency. It is no coincidence that Americans are increasingly valuing speed and convenience over substance. In fact, they have been imbued with the expectation of near instant-gratification from myriad sources such as telecommunications, a highly developed infrastructure, and fast-food. The course will also include a critical examination of what the impact of our "fast everything" culture is having on analytical and intellectual development. And finally, we'll explore whether the post-materialist paradigm is compelling enough to reverse this trend." - Dr. Shawn Easley.

Required Text:

Fast Food Nation, By Eric Schlosser

The Consumer Society Reader, edited Juliet B. Schor & Douglass B. Holt.

Citizen Participation in Resource Allocation, By William Simonsen & Mark D. Robbins

Civics for Democracy, By Kathleen Issac

Reference Material (partial list):

Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street, By Gates, J.

The Symbolic Uses of Politics, By Edelman, M. (1985)

Civics for Democracy, By Issac, K.

Politics and Markets: The World's Political-Economic Systems, By Lindblom, C.

The Triumph of Mean-ness: Americas War Against Its Better Self, By Mills, N.

Power, Inc., By Mintz, M. and Cohen, J.

Stupid White Men, By Moore, M.

Downsize This!, By Moore, M.

Crashing the Party: How to Tell the Truth, and Still Run for President, By Nader, R.

Cutting Corporate Welfare, By Nader, R.

It's the Media Stupid, By Nichols, J. and McChesney, R.

The Logic of Collective Action, By Olson, M.

Participation and Democratic Theory, By Pateman, C.

Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, By Philips, K.

Boiling Point: Democrats, Republicans and the Decline of Middle-Class Prosperity, By Philips, K.

America Needs a Raise, By Sweeney, J.

Semi-Sovereign People, By Schattchrieder, E.

And Various articles from the New York Times and Atlantic Monthly. PBS broadcast videos: Now with Bill Moyers the Newshours with Jim Leher and Frontline.


Homework for Jan. 14th - Feb. 11th: American Attitudes Toward Government & Wealth

Assignment Jan. 21, 2003: Intro and # 13-Holt in Consumer Society Reader.

Class Discussion

"How can you have pride in your country? It isn't like you chose it - you were born here. Citizenship is automatic."

The guy in my class had a point. Wow, he is right, I never chose to be here. Love of country and love of government are two separate things. I can love America for its lands and people without loving it for its government systems. As for the citizenship thing, I offered that maybe Patriotism is going down, because as families settle here, and generations are born, they are told that they should love this country, but they do not understand why. I know that is true, I am fourth generation German. My great grandpa CHOSE this country. He loved it. We are told to hold it dear, with no reasons to why.

"With globalism it's hard to define 'them', it's certainly difficult to fight 'us'."

The point is, that as people we like to have clear cut groups of 'us' and 'them', this is particularly important in wars, since 'we' are right and 'they' are the bad guys. Since the earth is getting smaller, and everyone is becoming interconnected with technology people are realizing how similar we all are in truth. The point being that it is hard to motivate someone to fight and kill people who aren’t very different from yourself.

Class Notes

Pol2800: The citizen consumer

  • Read an article for facts, hunches, and things you want to know that aren’t discussed.

About this inquiry:

  • Role of government
  • Is there a Problem?
  • The consumer culture: a matter of choice?
  • Case study in consumerism: Fast Food
  • What can be done…?

American Values Equality, Liberty, Order, and Tolerance


Perot                                                          Newt

Separatists                                        Integrationist

Gephardt                                                   Clinton

                        Social Safety Netters

I am not sure who this graph belongs to, but I promise I will up date it tuesday with who.

The Case Against Unrestrained Capitalism -Indictment: Inequity, Ecological Devastation, Political Disenfranchisment -By the Numbers: Top 1% of American Households possess 40% of the nations wealth. Top 1% of wealth exceeds the combined wealth of the bottom 95%.

-The Three Richest Americans - Gates, Allen, and Buffet have a combined wealth that is greater then 41 of the worlds poorest nations combined.

Reading 1/18/03

The Consumer Society- Intro + Chap. 13


  • Do Americans consume too much? "Brand Is Me" mentality.
  • Common American complaints about society:
    • Too materialistic
    • Too focused on the getting and spending
    • Increasingly removed from long standing nonmaterialistic values

I find it ironic that Americans think that these are problems in our society, but that no one is willing to do anything about it.

  • Many households are stretched thin as their income doesn't keep up with the rising tide of consumer standards.

  • We are out of time, so to make up for the time loss we use money. We are now willing to pay for what was once free (or cheaper).

It's interesting that since women have left home to go to work that simple commodities like time to go grocery shopping, or even time to do laundry is now non-existent. It has raised a need for companies who deliver groceries from orders online, and companies that will wash your clothing for you.

  • Sports Arenas were once named after communities or leading families. Today they are named after companies.
  • "Indeed, our deepest personal connections are increasingly dominated by market transactions…, or the commercialization of religion and spirituality. Little remains sacred, and separate from the world of the commodity. As a result people have become ever more desperate to sacralize the profane consumer world around them, worshiping celebrities, collections, and brand logos." (Schor and Holt)
  • Companies create desires to motivate consumerism and sell you their products.
  • "the corporation both creates the want, and satisfies it." (The Consumer Society Reader)
  • Capitalism needed housewives to drive consumerism, women who shopped, choosing from cake mixes and washing powders, women driven to purchase discerningly.

The point of this last quote is that women are intelligent, and that capitalism played upon women who had nothing better to do than to weigh the pros and cons of a laundry detergent.

  • Celebrities take the place of religion, and they are consumable goods.
  • Wealth vs. Military Prowess. Now since class is defined by apparent] wealth, the wealthier you look the higher your class.
  • "A recent popular anticonsumer manifesto by Naomi Klein has its own "NoLogo" logo, opposition ads are another form of ad. Is it possible to escape a world of such ubiquitous commodification?" (Schor and Holt)

I think it is interesting that everything is so cliché, nothing has ever been more true.

What do we do
When all the world's cliché?

What do we do
And where do we go?

When every song has been written
All combinations of tones have been used

(Four-by-four and twelve tones)

Every word has been said
Every story told

When even asking this
Has become cliché

My very question asked before
A thousand times

What do we do?
Where the hell do we go?

You might as well slit your wrists
But nothing's more cliché than that

The world's so cliché
Yet another day in hell

- 10/20/99 

Chapter 13 is interesting, but it seems to be very long with no real useful information that can be taken out of context. If you want to know more, get the book and read it.

The Consumer Society Reader, edited Juliet B. Schor & Douglass B. Holt.

Syllabus for POL2800 by Dr. Easley

Poem by LX

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