Capitalism and Advertising

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11224

Christmas in July? Sure seems like it when you see holiday items displayed in stores that early. Ads push us to buy not products, but lifestyles. That's called capitalism. Learn to analyze modern ads!


Economics, World

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


The big, shiny kitchen appliances, the fancy new car, the fresh, minty breath — the world of commercials promises us a life of comfort and joy. There is no doubt that capitalism has brought us comfort the likes of which previous generations could only have dreamed.

Let's take a moment to appreciate some of the things we have. Brainstorm a list of the conveniences we enjoy today that would have been unlikely or impossible just one hundred years ago!

The system that made all of these advancements possible is capitalism.

Now, capitalism has its critics for sure, and it has a long and complex history. We will focus on one kind of capitalism, a more recent variety of capitalism that touches all our lives: consumer capitalism.

Read What Is Consumer Capitalism?, by Sharon Omondi for WorldAtlas

As you read, gather information to answer the following questions:

  • What are the impacts of consumer capitalism on shoppers' habits?
  • Why was being a good consumer equated with being a good patriot?
  • What are some techniques used in the United States to encourage consumer capitalism?

Share your answers with a parent or teacher, and seek out their experience:

  • What social pressures do we face to consume?
  • In what ways does advertising shape or communicate values?

Capitalism is a very complex set of ideas and approaches to managing resources in society. There are aspects of capitalism, however, with which we interact day to day. We participate in the culture of capitalism in many ways you might not have considered before.

Most people who practice or benefit from capitalism have never read a book on the subject or taken a class on how to be a capitalist. But in the Got It? section, you will examine some of the most common ways that consumer capitalism spreads its ideas: through advertising!

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