Joseph M. Pellerito Jr., Frank Tridico, and Catherine Lysack. “The role of the Automobile in American Culture” Issues In Social Justice. Landon Elsemere Press (2009).
Commodity Fetishism: The process in which a commodity becomes removed from its own use value and often asserts external implications.
Material goods have been used to represent ones social class since the beginning of capitalism. One of the most significant symbols of a persons social class in America is the American automobile. The ideology of “The American Dream” continues to promote these social implications and has become an a large part of American culture. A product that was conceptualized as a means for transportation has become a competitive market of turning the simplicity of transportation into a battle of luxury and convenience.
The introduction of the automobile changed American culture forever. The introduction of the automobile helped foster freedom and independence (119). The automobile gave American’s the means to go where they wanted when they wanted as opposed to the scheduled departures of alternative transportation such as trains and boats. The car parked in your driveway became an immediate staple of judgement.
“The type of motor vehicle a consumer chooses to drive is influenced by the brand image that is the result of a manufacturer’s carefully orchestrated media campaign. For generations the vehicle type has provided consumers with a kind of symbol or badge designed to communicate a not-so-subtle message about one’s perceived status, role, personal aesthetic (e.g., taste), or financial situation” (130).
The automobile has become a very complex symbol. The values of a manufacturer are embedded within their logo and the consumption of a particular brand binds the consumer to those values.