New Public Management: The Product of Post-Modern Consumer Culture?

Arvydas Guogis, Adomas Vincas Rakšnys


The aim of the article is to conduct theoretical analysis trying to show that consumerism, as the feature of post-modern society, interrelates with new public management concept and makes an impact to its theoretical principles. In the first part, the authors reveal the differences between consumption and consumerism and define the main characteristics of consumerism. A. Maslow needs hierarchy pyramid’s logic serves for that purpose as the instrument. Consumerism aspect is indicated as the natural, organic activity, which is directed to fulfill the lower individ’s needs. Consumerism as not natural, postmodern meta-life form not only causes inflation in the lower factors of human needs, but also presses forward to the sphere where consumerism was earlier absent. In postmodern society, the higher human social and self-actualization needs also are becoming the instruments of consumerism. When earlier these needs were satisfied by establishing real social ties and they were dependent on other individs, now the human relations sphere is transforming. These processes are reduced to social plays of trade and the cult of materialism becomes the essential feature. There are also revealed other aspects, such as the use of rational quality criteria and absolutizing of quantitative indicators as well as the deformation of qualitative indicators in the context of consumerism. It is necessary to indicate the understanding of consumerism as the process where individ is using the commodities and services and the consumerism where the consumer becomes the consuming substance.
In the second part, the authors reveal the connection between consumerism and new public management concept by expressing the status of the state as the trade center status and absolutizing the quantitative indicators, orientation towards the client and reduction of state employees to human resources understanding. Human resources in such a model have to submit to the imperatives of consumerism. Many causes could have an impact to the management and consumerism relation, for instance, the geographical factors, economic development of capitalism and neo-liberal streams.
These arising problems pose a necessity in state governance to orientate towards New Governance, as the alternative how to reject the destructive and consumeristic accents of new public management for the sake of society and the state development. Social dimension, which was abandoned by new public management 20-30 years ago while retreating from the welfare state, has to be rediscovered in the new circumstances.


postmodernism; new public management; new governance; consumerism; public administration

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