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Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole
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Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  648 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
A powerful sequel to Benjamin R. Barber's best-selling Jihad vs. McWorld, Consumed offers a vivid portrait of an overproducing global economy that targets children as consumers in a market where there are never enough shoppers and where the primary goal is no longer to manufacture goods but needs. To explain how and why this has come about, Barber brings together extensive ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published March 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2007)
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Apr 11, 2010 Whitaker rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Barber’s book in five easy steps:
1. Consumerist capitalism needs to create consumers who will buy goods ceaselessly. It does this by using advertising campaigns that create needs from wants. We become unable to distinguish between what we need and what we want.
2. Consumerist capitalism celebrates youth and not age. It values youthful and not mature behaviour. Thus it corrodes our ability to think. This allows us to be more easily manipulated and less able to participate meaningfully in making h
W. Littlejohn
It took me more than a year to finish this book--sometimes, that should tell you something about me, but in this case, that should tell you something about this book. While Barber's overall thesis is compelling and important, his presentation of it seemed calculated to alienate any possible allies. Pompous and blustering, he writes most of the book's 339 small-font pages in a breathless, melodramatic tone of fervent moral passion and outrage (I suppose the subtitle should've warned me adequately ...more
Caryn Vainio
Aug 10, 2008 Caryn Vainio rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this book sounded promising, but I felt let down at the end of it. Barber spends what seems like over half of the book to get to his point -- which is that the rampant consumerism so prevalent in the U.S. is actually undermining democracy itself -- and while he's doing this, he's so disdainful of anything that has the mere hint of consumerist pap that it's hard to think he's capable of enjoying anything that isn't considered high-brow literature or conversation.

His point is a good
Lumumba Shakur
A book such as this is polarizing and any reviews will inevitably be emotionally founded in the economy ideology in which the reviewer subsides in. That being the case, knowing full well my own political and economic bias, the point is very well argued. The complaints of redundancy are founded and the work does not purport to be a literary masterpiece. The scene which he depicts is one in which corporations vie with more traditional institutions over subversive influence on the lives of citizens ...more
Brian Ayres
Consumed is designed as a wake-up call, however Barber will be hard-pressed to get the attention of our consumption-laden populace, who wishes only to be entertained and not educated. This book is not entertaining in the least, but it does provide a solid historical view of the stages of capitalism in this country and the perils of our current consumerist mindset. Barber uses the phrase infantilist ethos to describe our psychological state, which has been established by robust and omnipresent ma ...more
This has been sitting in my room with a bookmark in it for a couple of months now - I slogged through the chapter on Adorno and Veblen et al and said, "gnh, I'll finish this later." Well, it's later now, and the book is due soon, and I think I'm just going to let it go. I'm far from a defender of Lady Capitalism and her Free Market Brigade, but the section I read was so reactionary and condescending that it made me want to go on a day-long Wal-Mart shopping spree out of spite.
I thought that i would like this book. Barber wrote a short essay (maybe 7 or 8 pages) called "Shrunken Sovereign" for World Affairs' Spring 2008 issue. In it, he basically rehearsed the argument that he makes in this book. However, the essay in world affairs was not any indicator of the quality of this book. The essay is a triumph. This book, however, is poorly written. Pretty much every paragraph has at least one claim in it that is indefensible, or at the very least misguided.
I agree with Bar
Feb 20, 2009 Wm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Scary. With prose that neither talks down nor gets to academic. All that you'd want in a public intellectual.

And really, it's an important work, and I fully agree with Barber's basic notions of reclaiming notions of civic space and the commons.

On the other hand:

Some sections are too much a rehearsal of a list of examples. And some examples don't contain enough analysis to suggest that Barber quite dug enough into it (both those things he lauds and criticizes). Case in point: His comme
Dec 30, 2009 Litro rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A tentative, paternal liberal manifesto in opposition to the lifestyle of rampant consumerism.

Barber invokes a number of astute observations, particularly how certain consumer preferences compromise the stability of prevailing historical conceptions of adulthood and citizenship,however, his thesis is weakened by his unwillingness to consider the systemic functionality of consumer capitalism alongside his own moral argument. Indeed, Barber demonstrates his cynical rejection of such suggestions w
May 14, 2012 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book sounded interesting, and from the description it had the potential to be thought-provoking. The author made some good points.

Unfortunately, those points were overshadowed by the author's complete failure to understand pop culture- no, it's not all Shakespeare, but neither is it as infantile as he makes it out to be. (Seriously, he used The Incredibles as an example of the puerility of modern movies. He's apparently unable to divorce his preconceptions of the medium from the actual cont
Ben Boocker
Mar 22, 2013 Ben Boocker rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After a mere ten pages, the amount of redundancy and overuse of buzzwords was more than I could handle. The accusations of the "infantilizing" of the current 20-something generation is the same tired point that has emerged from the mouths of the older generation to the younger since humanity has evolved vocal chords to form speech. People change, life-styles change, societies and their conventions change. Get used to this idea, sir. The author ridicules people who should apparently be acting lik ...more
Nov 07, 2007 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardcore Academic Liberals with Vocabularies the size of the OED
This ended up being way over my head. Too dense.

The premise is that the international economy is pushing companies to make and market their products to "The lowest common denominator". The result is that more people buy them, which is good for business, but bad for society. The dumbing down of movies is a good example of this. According to Barker, people are being told they "need" consumer products from cradle to grave. Because of this they are more interested in their choices at Wal-Mart than
Jul 07, 2012 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2013 Will rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not particularly original or well-written. This book felt more like an introduction to criticism of capitalism than a piece of actual scholarship. Barber bounces from how shitty movies get made to how children in sub-Saharan Africa don't have enough vitamins. The vulgar outcomes of capitalism are many, to be sure, but Barber's solution of 'more democracy' and a 'global citizenry' are cliches, if not simply meaningless platitudes. Without any notions of how we might actually subvert capitalism's ...more
Dorian Santiago
Jul 27, 2014 Dorian Santiago rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I go into a (hopefully not too long) review of this book, I want to type out one of the many excerpts that stood out to me:

"After all, when religion colonizes every sector of what should be our multidimensional lives, we call the result theocracy; and when politics colonizes every sector of what should be our multidimensional lives, we call the result tyranny. So why, it might be asked, when the marketplace--with its insistent ideology of consumption and its dogged orthodoxy of spending--
Thomas Simpson
I agreed with a lot of what this book had to say. To a certain extent. Yes commercialism/advertizing/marketing is pervasive and yes there has been a dangerous retreat away from the public sphere to the ubiquity of the private. I don't disagree with many of his overarching points. However, this is a very frustrating book. First, because he's a terrible writer. His book is largely repetitive and he never quite knows if he's trying to write a "serious, academic" book or if he's writing a popular bo ...more
Jan 28, 2014 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
All hail Benjamin R. Barber. King of the Curmudgeons and Hater of All Things Fun.

Solid book and solid argument but repetitive. Which is a shame because I'm pretty sure there are some kids on Mr. Barber's lawn that he desperately needs to go and yell at.

All kidding aside, the book is worth a read and I don't regret it in the least.

It's just the second bullet-point in the book's sub title that gives me pause and leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

1. Markets Corrupt Children (Okay, I'm listening)

Katie Degentesh
Sep 24, 2007 Katie Degentesh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very dry & too proselytizing. The 'infantilization' was presented in the manner of a literary academic argument where the writer was searching for tropes to support a theme, rather than as a scientific argument with evidence. This is unfortunate as in general I felt the writer had a point and got hung up on his own semantics.
Jul 01, 2007 Simon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: colbert
Totally great book, really annoyingly redundant and verbose.
Matthew Petrus
Jul 13, 2009 Matthew Petrus is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I just can't get into this book. I need a new book.
Mar 11, 2016 TheFrugalNexus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anti-consumerism
This review originally appeared on my website thefrugalnexus

Benjamin Barber’s sortie against consumerism is sure to reverberate from the glass tower offices of big box USA to the indolent consumer buying pre-peeled oranges (a real example of infantilization of society).

As way of general review, Barber’s main avenue of assault is by drive by shooting. Barber has a lengthy list of target and what he does is drive up, unloads his quick assault and then drives off to the next target, in other words
Sylvia Laurence
I love the message of the book, but I think it is reductionistic. It is so helpful at criticizing the consumer culture and pointing out the destructive effects of consumer culture. Yet it unnecessarily blames everything on one political party (the conservatives), and the tone is often arrogant and presumptuous. Still, aside from the bias and not the best tone, this book inspired me to live a less consumeristic lifestyle and to savor what I have. Sometimes it's valuable to step back and zoom out ...more
Hank Richardson
Jul 31, 2010 Hank Richardson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Provocative!- the author Benjamin Barber puts forward a really strong case for the realization and dangers of 'infantilization'- i.e., enduring childishness as more than just a simple metaphor for what is occurring in consumer capitalism today; and, he frames a window for considering productivist needs, real needs and even touches on invented needs that Karl Marx long ago discussed as 'imaginary needs,' at a time when we have become a consuming society in the U.S. lending q. and possibly for cre ...more
Oct 07, 2008 Kyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dull criticism of a Neo-liberal market which targets and brainwashes children, infantilizes consumer and fabricates needs. Prime example of Neo-Marxism under the disguise as anti-consumerism.

Second review a year later:
After increasing my knowledge of libertarianism, consumerism and critical theory, I thought I should take a second look at a book which is widely acclaimed.

Barber writes a compelling polemic against privatization which I focused on. His argument is basically that no matter what tr
Eric Haahn
Sep 28, 2013 Eric Haahn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barber tries to end on something vaguely resembling an optimistic note, although he might be hoping against hope; I don’t see a whole lot in his book to justify it. I don’t think it’s just my cynical nature, either. Any objective evaluation of Barber’s text would certainly find it long on elaborating problems, and short on identifying solutions. Even the solutions he does explore, he himself pokes holes in. It’s a bit difficult to believe he invests so many words in painting a horrifying portrai ...more
Apr 02, 2008 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought this book was mildly entertaining and fairly informative. I mean: After much rumination, I postulated the content of this literary work to be flippantly recreative and averagely elucidative.

I have the same complaints I've had for all the non-fiction books I've read that cover "America sucks" topics. It's typically left wing and not written for average people. If you think you have an important message to get out to the public, something that could help remedy the ills of society, you b
Jan 11, 2008 Meg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
page 123: "At war with the the democratic history it once helped inaugurate, laissez-faire liberalism continues to mistake popular sovereignty for illegitimate coercion and to confound the public weal with the repression of liberty. It forgets the very meaning of the social contract, a covenant in which individuals agree to give up unsecured private liberty in exchange for the blessings of public liberty and common security."

The first 100 pages of this book were a little grating, with an overuse
Feb 07, 2008 Anne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: failed-reads
I must preface this with the acknowledgement that I didn't finish this book. I didn't get beyond the first chapter.

I had issues with the author's reliance on technological gadgetry as proof of advertising's grip and an individual's reduction to "infantilized" state. I had issues with a symptom of this state: an adult reading Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings is inappropriate for adult reading consumption? I'm sure Tolkien would have found this fascinating. Harry Potter
Apr 20, 2008 A.C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Benjamin Barber, well known for accurately predicting the current ideological (and I can't stress the word ideological enough) struggle between the movement of globalization and the reaction back by more traditional forces in Jihad vs. McWorld, writes a striking indictment of the capitalist system. Over the course of the book, Barber articulates the three components of the subtitle with extensive research and thorough analysis, referencing both John Dewey and Teen Vogue. His conclusions are much ...more
Barber has some great things to say about late capitalism's colonization of every part of life and the role of consumerism and advertising in the infantilization of modern life (I would argue that individualization is a more pernicious effect, but still, his point is valid). He is particularly on-point with his discussions of privatization and the decaying public sphere and the sovereignty of the liberal nation-state.

... but then, he lets his grumpy old man side take over. I mean, this guy HATES
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American political theorist perhaps best known for his 1996 bestseller, Jihad vs. McWorld.
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