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Nicole Brkic, Martha Chomyn, Alejandra Farias, Razane Hanna and Amy Morrell

Modern life in urban North America is inextricably linked to the system of consumerism. Consumerism is a system that sustains and increasingly promotes purchasing behaviours beyond our basic needs. This profit-oriented system operates on continual efforts to decrease the costs of all the components within it. The shift from manufacturing to a service-based economy has resulted in populations becoming dependent on corporations and retailers to produce and sell products required to fulfil our basic needs. Seasonal purchasing cycles have created a social expectation of consumption, but the pressures this brings impact individuals’ emotional, environmental, and economic well-being. Additionally, the exponential growth and diversification of advertising have infiltrated our lives and perpetually send messages that individuals need to purchase more in order to find happiness and fulfilment in life. This dependence and emotional and social connection make the system difficult to overcome. Using the Systemic Design Toolkit as a guide, this map seeks to understand how the system of consumerism is upheld, how it affects individuals’ well-being and the possible areas for intervention. To guide our work, we aimed to answer the question: How might we leverage knowledge towards actionable change to encourage responsible and conscious consumption for societal well-being? Through this close examination, we sought to find potential points of intervention that could help people attain a healthy perspective and relationship with consumerism.


Pre-proceedings drafts are available for review. The corresponding paper number is at the end of the title.




Citation Data

Author(s): Nicole Brkic, Martha Chomyn, Alejandra Farias, Razane Hanna and Amy Morrell
Year: 2022
Title: Why We Buy: A Systems View of Consumerism
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 219
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 1 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404