Unit Three Outline

I’ve changed topics and am now focusing on the shift in manufacturing of consumer goods from durables to disposables.  I want to explore several shifts in practices and attitudes, particularly among consumers, as well as changes in technology that have caused this shift.  Finally, I hope to determine whether the decrease in many products’ lifespans indicates a decline in quality, or is merely the result of more rapid growth and shifts in purchasers’ habits.

I plan to divide the paper into subsections, namely between changes in the practices of companies and manufacturers and those of consumers.  The paper will address these issues as they relate to the American market and its development from the post-WWII era to the present.

  • Introduction: Shift in manufacturing from consumer durables to disposables
    • Average lifetime of common products; products that were popular post WWII
  • Scarcity of WWII made consumers appreciate quality, long lifespan
  • Manufacturing shift from post-war boom in U.S. to foreign made
    • Americans now lack technical skills necessary to bring manufacturing back to U.S.
  • Shift in type of products demanded
    • New technology needs to be replaced more frequently because of increased growth (exponential development of technology)
  • Planned obsolescence
    • Forces consumers to upgrade more frequently
    • New products made incompatible with old
  • Warranties decreased
  • Shift in marketing: focus on newest models
    • Cars kept for a few years instead of a decade; leased instead of purchased
    • Electronics require frequent updating or replacing
  • Conclusion

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4 comments

  1. This sounds like a really interesting idea for a paper. It’s an issue we don’t even realize is happening proving we need to become informed about it. I’m interested to see what example objects you choose to use and look at. I also wonder what you will conclude after all of your research, I’m interested to see where you go from here.

  2. This is a great topic you’ve picked because there is soooo much to talk about. I think you’ve broken down a lot of it into researchable parts, but I didn’t really see you analyze or make a conclusion from it. But you’re probably just waiting until you do the research to draw a conclusion, which is actually a good idea. Have you thought about tying this into the idea of conspicuous consumerism or that consuming more products was a sign of social status? It might also be interesting to think about how this affects the environmental push for reusable products. Just some ideas, but a great start!

  3. This is a really cool topic, and I did not even realize that this was a shift until reading this outline. It is interesting how objects such as Iphone are manufactured to have shorter lifespans. I think a lot of it has to do with the consumer shift, but also for a new means of profit for manufacturers who thus can sell more products.

  4. I never really noticed the paradigm shift that you are doing until I read this. Now that I think about it, I could definitely agree with the trend described. Right now, technological advances are being made increasingly fast and therefore making it harder for the average consumer to actually keep up with all the new products. I don’t know if it would have something to do with making products more disposable, but the fast speed of technology could be changing the way we sell or buy products.

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