Why do Americans want so much more than they need? If we, as consumers, are no longer simply keeping up with the Joneses but are trying to surpass them, who are our contemporary models for consumer spending? What are the American status symbols? What role does the notion of individualism play in the new consumption patterns? Students in this class will engage critically with our roles as consumers and examine the links between consumption and social identity, and the shift in spending patterns. While paying attention to how consumption patterns are linked to social class, we will analyze taste as a socially constructed category. In our examination of the ideology of romance, we will focus on the wedding industry and explore how weddings, especially white weddings, permeate American popular culture and how they relate to issues of consumerism, accumulation, and class privilege. We will not only explore how our identities as consumers are shaped by competitive spending, but will also examine the emerging “postmaterialist” lifestyle changes in consumer consciousness and behavior.