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The origin of understanding of consumers and consumption derives from the microeconomic frameworks first constructed in the 19th century. This economic viewpoint depends on the concepts of utility and rational thought. It is assumed that the consumer has a finite stock of money that can be spent on a variety of different commodities or products. Since it is possible for individual consumers accurately to place a specific amount of happiness (or utility) on the possession of a unit of each available product—and the value of that utility declines if the consumer already has bought some unit of that item—then the consumer will make rational decisions in order to maximize the amount of utility that can be obtained. This model remains influential, although it has undergone ...

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