Consumer culture and shiny objects


The time and energy spent on this beautiful quilt make it all the more valuable to the creator and their family.

What makes a valuable object?

Dr. Baker explores “shiny objects” in United America and frequently covers the topic on his daily blog, But what’s the difference between a shiny object, and a valuable one? Why do some things become heirlooms and others are thrown out the moment something breaks?

Dr. Baker explores the topic of valuable objects on

Valuable objects are directly tied to values, and the two can often influence each other. Valuable objects can often represent specific values, like a treasured flag might represent symbolic patriotism.

Debra Darvick writes about show and tell for adults.

Shiny objects, meanwhile, are at the heart of America’s consumer-driven economy. “A status-driven consumer can never have enough, even though (as resarch has shown) buying more doesn’t raise happiness. This constant desire for something new and better is called the ‘treadmill of consumption,'” writes Dr. Wayne Baker in United America.


Participants of a class centered around United America share the stories of their valuable objects.

 Check out Dr. Baker’s series on shiny objects and consumerism! Leave him a comment with your experiences.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email