Philosophy of futility

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Philosophy of futility is a phrase coined in 1928 by Columbia University marketing professor Paul Nystrom to describe an increasingly prevalent outlook which, he believed, induced a greater demand useless capitalist products. The growth of industrialization had brought about a narrowing of interests, contacts, and achievements for many people in the world. Such conditions of life, Nystrom observed, encourage a tendency to become quickly bored and, consequently, a continuous appetite for newness and change and a greater interest in goods in which fads dominate, such as apparel, automobiles, and home furnishings.

The following is a quotation from Nystrom's Economics of Fashion (1928), often cited by historians and analysts of marketing, consumerism, capitalism, and commercialism:[1]


  1. ↑ p. 85, Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture, Stuart Ewen, New York: Basic Books, 1976/2001; p. 18, Our Media, Not Theirs, Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols (journalist)| John Nichols, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002.