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Greed and consumption. How much is enough? The paper by students of University of Split (Croatia)


Ana Meštrović and Ante Knežević, two students of University of Split - Faculty of Economics Business and Tourism, wrote this interesting paper for the CSB Pilot Course.


Consumer culture can be defined as a culture where social status, activities and values are centred on the consumption of goods and services. Usually, when a country's economy is prosperous, consumer culture thrives. People are motivated by the desire for particular products and/or services while organizations respond with innovations and new products. Consumption became a central and organizing feature of social order. Nowadays, marketing activities are at the core of every organization. Before, marketing activities were focused on satisfying consumer needs, but now they are creating some new needs for consumers. Due to this change a new term has come to focus – greed, which is defined as intense and selfish desire for more of something than is needed. The question is – why people are so greedy? What drives them to be greedy and obsessed with material things? Well, these questions may seem simplistic at first, but they are far more than that. Greed is part of our everyday life; we can almost say that it is part of our genetic map. Countless research implicate that having more money has a direct relationship with increased general life satisfaction (of course material things are not a guarantee for a happy life). Maybe that is the reason why people are buying so many things, but happiness usually lasts for a small number of minutes until they are bored and want to buy something else. People always want more – more money, more food, more clothes, more cars etc. But why do we search for more when, in fact, we lack nothing. A very important thing to mention is that usually people cannot be happy if they do not have essential things in life – so material things do matter because every person on planet should have normal living conditions (unfortunately that is not the case). The problem with greed starts when you surpass that particular level of comfort (usually represented in developed countries). It is stated in the first documentary that greed is something like a drug, the more we have the more we want because whatever we have no longer satisfies us. In other words, it is not what we actually possess that makes us happy, it is the constant striving for more. Greed is bad for every society because it drives people to unethical and illegal things and/or actions in the pursuit for more money. We should not mistake greed with ambition. It is okay that people want to work hard, get a good education, start a business or invest in a company, but it is not okay when your main focus in life becomes 'having more and more things'.

In this seminar our main focus will be human's behaviour in materialistic world. We will talk about money, happiness, greed, consumption and sustainability. This seminar will be based on two documentaries: 'Money, happiness and eternal life – Greed' and 'Consumerism', but we will try to give as much as possible of our own opinions based on psychological research that is connected with our everyday life.

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