Burma-Shave was a brand of shaving cream famous for its humorous advertisements during the 1920s (check out the link here to see some examples for yourself). They had a reputation sort of like Geico does today; a company known for doing unconventional commercial advertisements with their own quirky sense of style. Yet perhaps another reason for their success lies not in the content of their ads, but new trends in American life in the 1920s that emphasized more materialistic values of status and wealth. Or as sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen called conspicuous consumption; spending money on luxurious goods to flaunt the wealth and status of the buyer.
We previously spoke with Forgottonia native Dr. Trenton Ellis about job loss throughout rural America. In this interview Dr. Ellis mentioned factors like technology, globalization, and the lack of economic diversity as contributing to job loss. Since our talk with Dr. Ellis was so rich in material and we didn’t want to depress you by only discussing problems, we split our discussion in two parts. In this 2nd edition, we address plans of action and ask 2 essential questions; What can we do about factors impacting job loss and What interferes with progress in rural America?
While Dr. Ellis admits there’s no quick fix, the wisdom he offers comes not just from his academic background, but his personal experience growing up in rural America.
A recent podcast on NPR Ted Radio Hour asked the question ¨What are the 5 biggest problems in the world?¨ (you can listen to the podcast here or search ¨Ted Radio Hour¨ on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts). Let’s take a closer look and then ask the question ¨What are the 5 biggest problems facing Rural America?¨
The following is a portion of the transcript from our interview with Tim Kasser about value pollution.
On this edition we return to our conversation with Dr. Tim Kasser, a psychology professor at Knox College who is no stranger to rural living. We were extremely fortunate to speak with Dr. Kasser, he is the well-known author of a 2002 book called ¨The High Price of Materialism¨ which explores the undesirable effects that living in a consumerist culture has. He´s also featured in Andrew Morgan´s 2015 documentary ¨The True Cost¨ which examines consumerism and the mass media; this film and 2011s ¨Happy¨ are both featured on Netflix and I highly recommend you watch immediately.
Dr. Kasser spoke with us about a topic he is very passionate, one that we´ll refer to as value pollution. He’s studied value pollution for over 20 years and finds, among other things, that there are some very harmful effects advertising in particular has on children. While this may not seem like an issue unique to rural Americans, perhaps rural areas are better equipped to deal with this problem due to our ability to organize and come together. Our essential questions today are why should we ban advertisements in schools and what would alternative, intrinsically-driven ads look like? We will do our best to tackle this important, eye opening topic and more on this edition of Forgottonia.
We’ve explored a number of topics revolving around social problems we face in rural America, but just because we’re studying problems in rural America doesn’t mean everyone is miserable. Rural places are awesome places to live and there’s endless amounts of great things going on. But here´s our essential question today – can one make the case that you are happier living in a small town than anywhere else? To find out, we were very fortunate to discuss this topic with author & Knox College psychology professor, Tim Kasser. Dr. Kasser is well-known for his research on happiness which he’s conducted over the past 20 years. He is the author of several book such as 2002s¨The High Price of Materialism¨ and has been featured in documentary films like 2011s ¨Happy¨ which explored reasons why even though the US has the largest economy, we rank just 23rd in happiest nations throughout the world.
From January 2016 to January 2017, the region known as Forgottonia lost approximately 2,775 jobs. To learn why, we sat down with Dr. Trenton Ellis, a rural sociologist from Black Hills St. University. Although he lives in Spearfish, South Dakota, Ellis is a native of Forgottonia growing up in Canton, IL and graduating from Spoon River College in 2005. After SRC, Ellis completed undergraduate and master’s degrees from Western Illinois University in Macomb. In 2009 he matriculated to South Dakota State University’s Department of Sociology and Rural Studies where he graduated with a PhD in sociology in 2015. In 2016 he was awarded an outstanding Teaching Award at BHSU.
The following is an excerpt from our interview with Dr. Ellis.