Consumerism, credit cards, and college students

Claudette Levesque Ware, Salve Regina University


This study examines how the promotion of credit cards among undergraduate students, while of great practical advantage, may adversely affect their financial standing and increase their need to work a part-time or full-time job to meet financial obligations. The problem will be analyzed in relation to the broader theme of a humanities examination of advanced capital-driven technology that has shaped a pervasive culture of consumerism and has created wide-spread debt in the current population. The influences of corporate politics, the commercialization of culture, and the impact of the mass media have given rise to artificial material wants that many consumers tend to interpret as genuine human needs. ^ College students are particularly vulnerable to the power of consumerism. Free from parental supervision yet subject to a myriad of pressures, including academic, fiscal, and social, these young people often find fleeting gratification through material consumption. For many, convenience and entertainment serve as major forces that can drive them to adopt unreasonable spending patterns. In an effort to establish their self-worth and acceptance among their peers, students often become entrapped in a buying cycle that leads them to spend well beyond their means. ^ Credit-card acquisition and use, fostered by advanced advertising, is a powerful inducement to students in desperate need. With little concern for factors besides profit, most credit card companies stress ready access to easy money, which raises ethical questions about corporate responsibility. In addition to an examination and evaluation of pertinent literature, this study is supported by student interviews, consultation with administrators, and surveys conducted at a mid-size New England university. The data gathered cover student motivation for obtaining credit cards, the extent of their use, the ability to maintain payments, and dealing with debt. These factors all lead to several general conclusions, namely, that credit-card companies encourage student spending, promote the purchase of nonessential items, and facilitate overspending by these mainly vulnerable young adults. ^

Subject Area

Economics, Finance|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Sociology, Social Structure and Development|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Levesque Ware, Claudette, "Consumerism, credit cards, and college students" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations (Off Campus access). AAI3051596.