From Green Luddite to Techspressive: The ideology of consumer technology

Mar 17, 2008

When people line up to buy a new iPhone, what is it that they are really buying? A fascinating new paper in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research outlines the four main ideologies governing our consumption of technology, revealing that conceptions of technological use introduced hundreds of years ago still influence our adoption of new products and services today.

“Ideologies work like culture: they are mostly invisible and taken-for-granted sources of meaning and identity. They polarize concepts into good versus evil categories, and they demand emotional investments from us as we unconsciously identify ourselves with them,” explains Robert V. Kozinets (York University).

Kozinets points to four main ideologies governing our consumption of technology:

-- Techtopian Ideology. Founded in the Renaissance, the techtopian ideology and its gospel of progress tell us that technological development is a form of social betterment.

-- Work Machine Ideology. Dating to the Industrial Revolution, this ideology asserts that technology is the key to economic growth and wealth creation. It articulates meanings of industriousness and efficiency onto technology.

-- Green Luddite. Also derived from a movement during the Industrial Revolution. Early luddites were a large organized anti-industrial militia that destroyed early textile mills until brutally suppressed by the British government. Today’s green luddites see technology use as destructive of the natural, the traditional, and the authentic.

-- Techspressive Ideology. The most historically recent development, the techspressive ideology casts technology as a source of pleasure, fun, and style.

Kozinets argues that these ideologies are, by necessity, interconnected and have also permeated almost every realm of human endeavor and imagination.

“What is interesting about these ideologies is that, each one promises us a supreme good—progress, economic growth, the natural, or the pleasure—and yet each promise turns out to be unrealizable. This quest for completion drives us from one ideology to another in a ceaseless quest for consummation,” Kozinets writes.

He continues: “People are not just consuming technological gadgets and gizmos, they are consuming the ideology of technology itself.”

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: China's reform of R&D budget management doesn't go far enough, research shows

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

For top broadband policy, look no further than Canada

Aug 20, 2014

You might have seen communications minister Malcolm Turnbull raising the issue about Australian press not discussing policy problems and solutions from overseas, in a speech delivered at the Lowy Institute Media Awards last week: ...

Some people think astrology is a science – here's why

Jul 02, 2014

Most people reading this article will have also read their horoscope at least once. Even though scientific studies have never found evidence for the claims astrologers make, some people still think astrology ...

The challenges facing archivists in the 21st century

Jun 05, 2014

UCLA professor of information studies Anne Gilliland says that understanding the history of archival science is critical to understanding where the field is going. In her new book, "Conceptualizing 21st Century ...

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

Aug 29, 2014

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

User comments : 0