Industrialized societies are characterized by a proliferation of consumer durables, defined as goods used repeatedly or continuously in a domestic context. Such goods include: vehicles, major household appliances, house and garden tools and equipment, furniture and furnishings, carpets and other floor coverings, major recreation goods, telephones, clocks, jewelry, watches, and audiovisual, photographic, and information processing equipment. Reference to being used “repeatedly or continuously” indicates that the distinction between durable and nondurable goods is not based on physical durability (e.g., coal is highly durable in a physical sense but can be burned only once). This proliferation of goods both underpins and shapes our consumer culture.

The life spans of different consumer durables are variable, although such products are characterized by relatively long periods between purchases. The definition ...

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