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The Commodity of Culture

February 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Phineas Upham

We don’t often think of culture as a commodity, but it influences many of our choices in modern life. The place we live, what we have access to and what those elements influence us to do all play a role in the culture of a particular group. It’s easy to view consumerism as something negative. For some, third-world countries that do not rely on products and services to sustain themselves represent some purer form of life.

Culture could not exist without consumerism. High art, which represents one of the finest modern examples of culture, would not exist without a museum to purchase and display it. The museum in turn would not exist without benefactors to fund it and individuals to frequent it.

There is a misconception that those who turn away from this grassroots form of life are somehow exhibiting low political moralism. No one wants to see folk culture vanish, but people evolve. The truth is that there is value in one’s culture.

Culture influences art, which is a product that can be bought and sold. Culture drives fashion and religion. It helps people learn and process the world around them, and share that experience with others not there to see it.

Culture also cannot be thought of as stationary, otherwise there would not be so many origin stories that explain planet Earth. Culture evolves with human understanding. Thus, as societies conform to modern living their cultures impact and are impacted by those changes.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.

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