The Protestant ethic is a fundamental cultural form crucial to the study of consumer culture. At its most basic, it is a moral injunction that endorses the individual's duty to create wealth and achieve success by hard work, thrift, saving, and investment. To perform this function, it was necessary for a revised system of values and norms to promote competitive individualism, entrepreneurialism, and productivity as it also discouraged the ostentatious and perhaps socially toxic display of wealth and worldly pleasures. An investigation into the balance of the tension between these positive drives and negative restraints can inform the crucial debate on whether consumer culture is propelling us along the road to progress and happiness or catastrophic decay.

The Protestant ethic came into being as early Puritan ...

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