Cover for DAWSON: The Consumer Trap: Big Business Marketing in American Life. Click for larger image

The Consumer Trap

Big Business Marketing in American Life

Why the much-advertised American way of life continues to grow more socially, economically, and environmentally costly and less citizen-friendly -- and what we should do about it

The Consumer Trap blows the lid off the trillion-dollar-a-year business marketing industry, explaining how it continues to soak up economic and environmental resources and dominate the personal lives of citizens. Flouting conventional mainstream and radical thinking about consumer culture, Michael Dawson reveals how corporate marketing embodies and extends into personal life the scientific management principles famously enunciated by Frederick Winslow Taylor, whose earliest disciples predicted the big business marketing revolution. After revealing why corporate capitalism fuels an ever-increasing marketing race, Dawson provides a step-by-step account of how this behemoth works and expands. Using firsthand evidence, he explains in detail how big business marketing campaigns penetrate and profoundly affect the lives of ordinary Americans.

Dawson argues that if people are to escape the costly consumer trap set by the overclass, they will need to renew class struggle from below, inventing new institutions for democratically governing and implementing major economic decisions. A blueprint for reinventing the study and debate of the sociocultural effects of corporate marketing practices, The Consumer Trap makes big business marketing a target of direct historical and sociological scrutiny.

“Big Brother is alive and well and working for Madison Avenue. Michael Dawson tells us what the media won’t, how Big Business brainwashes citizens into consumers and undermines democracy. Everyone who fears the Thought Police should read this brilliant exposé.”--John Stauber, coauthor of Toxic Sludge Is Good for You: Lies, Damn Lies, and the Public Relations Industry

“Michael Dawson’s meticulous and illuminating research into marketing theory and practice lays bare some of the most important developments of the twentieth century: the ways in which the sophisticated and self-conscious ‘class coercion’ designed by and for business leaders passed beyond meticulous management of the workplace to ‘manipulating people’s off-the-job perceptions and actions.’ The goal is to ensure, as far as possible, that the lives of the ‘underlying population’ (in Veblen’s phrase) will be in the hands of the masters of the highly concentrated private economy. Dawson adds new insights to expose still further the mythology of ‘consumer sovereignty’ and ‘free markets,’ and sketches directions for a humane alternative to domination by ‘corporate overlords’ and the state power to which they are closely linked.”--Noam Chomsky

"This groundbreaking book is indispensable to anyone who wants to understand the history and nature of the marketing colossus that bestrides our narrow world today. Picking up where Thorstein Veblen left off, Michael Dawson offers up a very powerful analysis of corporate sales as a continuation of class warfare. With heroic clarity and force‹and on the basis of a great deal of remarkable research‹he tells us how and why it is that marketing serves not our pleasure or our happiness, but only the demands of business."--Mark Crispin Miller, author of Boxed In: The Culture of TV and The Bush Dyslexicon

Michael Dawson is an adjunct lecturer in the department of sociology at Portland State University.

To order online:
http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/55khc7bf9780252072642.html

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