A culture dominated by commercial messages that tells individuals that the way to happiness is through consuming objects bought in the marketplace gives a very particular answer to the question of “what is society?” what is it that binds us together in some kind of collective way, what concerns or interests do we share? In fact, Margaret Thatcher, the former conservative British Prime Minister, gave the most succinct answer to this question from the viewpoint of the market. In perhaps her most (in)famous quote she announced: “There is no such thing as ‘society’. There are just individuals and their families.” According to Mrs. Thatcher, there is nothing solid we can call society no group values, no collective interests society is just a bunch of individuals acting on their own. Indeed this is precisely how advertising talks to us. It addresses us not as members of society talking about collective issues, but as individuals. It talks about our individual needs and desires. It does not talk about those things we have to negotiate collectively, such as poverty, healthcare, housing and the homeless, the environment, etc..
The market appeals to the worst in us (greed, selfishness) and discourages what is the best about us (compassion, caring, and generosity).