Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 367 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Glenn D Deane

Committee Members

Richard Lachmann, Ronald Jacobs


Consumerism, Decision-making, Economic insecurity, Late-capitalism, Post-industrialism, Theory, Consumption (Economics), Cost and standard of living, Home economics, Consumers

Subject Categories

Economics | Psychology | Sociology


The transition to late-capitalism in the U.S. has generated extensive societal change. This paper examines the intersection of three of these changes: the transition to a consumer-oriented economic and societal model, the increase of economic insecurity experienced by individuals and households and the heightened emphasis on a short-term orientation in individual decision-making. A review of literature from the fields of Sociology, Economics and Psychology describes differing understandings of how individuals react to the heightened economic insecurity that households experience under late-capitalism. Within mainstream Economics', theoretical and empirical work suggests that individuals respond to insecurity by reducing spending and maximizing long-term financial well-being. However, recent work by theorists such as Zygmunt Bauman and Richard Sennett suggest that the proliferation of risk that occurs under late-capitalism weakens individuals' ability to anticipate future risks and leaves them vulnerable to society's emphasis on short-term thinking.