Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Era of Accountability: Consumers Taking On Responsibility for Turning Around The Economy


Was just listening to a talking head on CNN telling us all that the recession is over! Wonderful! ┬áBut is it true? All the same, it reminded me of this POV i wrote about a year ago that is still relevant…and New to the WordPress readers:
Times are tough, and while many-a-consumer will agree that our government and the increasingly-entitled American corporate and industrial complex played no small part in getting us there, the average citizen seems to be putting a humbling lens of onus on themselves as well.
Consumers have not been short on their opinions and desire for a verbal hash-out on the topic of the economy . I have been in field on a couple of different projects related to polar opposite topics where my ethnography and qualitative research subjects have waxed pissed-off. They are not so much mad at “the man” any more than they are mad at themselves. Upon being forced to rethink their ways and means in these tight economic circumstances, the process of personal accountability and lifestyle adjustment has taken shape.
Consumers are giving themselves gentle reminders not to become accustomed to a life they can’t sustain. This is as evident in how they shop for cars as it is how they shop for fast food, clothes and groceries. It is also becoming more present in their work ethic and their deflating sense of entitlement.
Gen Y in particular is facing the harsh reality that the world isn’t just waiting for them to show up so they can get an inflated paycheck. A Master’s degree doesn’t guarantee you a high paying salary and being ready and willing to work doesn’t guarantee you a job. This generation in particular grew up watching America prosper financially, even after 9-11 rocked their world view. It’s a kick in the pants to say the least, and it’s giving generations with a little more experience the right to say “I told you so”. One participant in a recent group dialogue, a career bus driver, opines, “I’m just gonna be the one to say it…the problem is that you people never learned how to live like a poor person. This economy didn’t affect me one bit because I’ve always been poor and learned how to be okay with it”.
Now the onus is being put back on the ingenuity of the American worker to get themselves out of their own mess. Consumers are reminding themselves and American companies that we need to focus on making a better products that we all can be proud of buying. I think this is both a personal and projective idea. Fingers are being pointed toward the mirror and the call for change is forcing us all to get our hands a little dirty. And from within this rising sense of accountability will come a better quality America, and that necessary rise in consumer confidence and purchasing power.