Obsolescence: Planned, Progressive, Stylistic

GASPAR BRÄNDLE

Universidad de Murcia, Spain

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs188

The current production system has an almost unlimited capacity to produce. It is arguably necessary, therefore, that objects of consumption have a planned and progressive obsolescence, either by natural wear due to normal use (loss of functional value) or by an artificial wear due to a change in the aesthetic canons (loss of its symbolic value). The key is that, either way, there is a created capacity for the arrival of renewed commodities.

In developed societies people are surrounded by a myriad of objects. The impressive capacity of the production system allows this material abundance, which contrasts with the shortage that many argue existed only a few decades ago. At that time, objects were few and their fundamental value was measured by their durability. An object that served its function for a long period of time was considered to be a good investment. In contrast, now the number of goods available to consumers has increased exponentially but their life has shortened dramatically under a market logic characterized by innovation and accelerating production and sales cycles. This means that the consumer gets used to the constant presence of new products, properly disseminated by advertising, and subordinated to the dictates of fashion, but it also means that the consumer is ready to get rid of goods as soon as possible to make space for the new range ...

Get The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.