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Anthropology - The Desire to Acquire

            Daniel Miller, Bourdieu, Deborah Posel, Baudrillard and other authors suggest that we consume things often for reasons other than simply satisfying our basic needs. Why, in a time of such plenty, do we consume at such high rates? Or rather, is it because of such plenty that we are driven to consume? We live in a time where even our children are dependent on a technological and materialistic way of life – for entertainment, education and even social status. By analysing my personal observations and investigating certain trends, this essay aims to bring to light the motive behind consuming more than what is necessary to satisfy ones basic needs. .
             Without fully understanding or questioning our desire to acquire, we repeatedly aim to obtain 'things' merely for superficial reasons, often, under the pretences of trying to satisfy our basic needs. To guarantee a pleasurable life lived, we have filled our lifeless creations with significance and instilled great importance and value into the manufactured or modified 'inanimate'. The less accessible and attainable the 'inanimate' is, the greater its worth becomes and, consequently, its value within society. Judith Lichtenberg proclaims that we "consume because others consume" and that we put a lot of effort into maintaining our strategically blatant "conspicuous consumption [] and our ostentatious display of wealth and the excessive reliance on material goods as a way of attaining status." (Lichtenberg, 1996: 281). The goods we consume have now, therefore, surpassed their original operational function as simply a 'resource' and now signify more than the fulfilment of our 'basic needs'.
             To a certain extent, the consumption within modern-day South Africa can be characterized by the "conjunction of liberation with wealth and what it can buy" (Posel, 2010: 157). Deborah Posel argues here that consumption is related to freedom and that one may consume to exercise their right to acquire.

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