University of New Hampshire
History & English: Journalism
Mentor: Dr. J. William Harris, Professor of History
Finding stability in an instable world: The effects of war-zone violence on the development of children
In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, America experienced a resurgence of patriotism unprecedented since World War II. Days after the attack, a flurry of patriotic commodities were clearly visible signs of a culture processing their grief and showing a sense of solidarity with the victims. These commodities included but were not limited to flags, hats, bumper stickers, and billboards.
In an attempt to evaluate how patriotism has inundated and become commodified in our culture, this paper characterizes the explosion of patriotism in the aftermath of September 11 and its subsequent salience in popular culture as a consumerist phenomenon reflective of the nature of our post-modern consumer culture. By defining consumer patriotism in the context of theories of postmodernism, consumer culture, advertising, and the influence of the mass media the analysis focuses specifically on the trend of consumer patriotism as it relates to critical and intellectual explanations of what is meant by a postmodern consumer culture, why we feel a need to consume, the integral role of advertising in the post-modern consumer culture, and the nature of what it means to be patriotic. This paper analyses consumer patriotism after September 11 in the vein of intellectual applications of these theories to a critical analysis of consumer patriotism, and concomitantly posits the notion that consumer patriotism ephemeralizes and devalues the ethical, cultural, and civic promotion of historically conscious patriotic virtues; virtues essential to the development of a sound liberal democracy yet autonomous from malevolent, culturally prejudicial forms of nationalism.