Author to give lecture at Baylor business school on growing consumerism

Virginia PostrelCourtesy Photo
Virginia Postrel
Courtesy Photo
By Abigail Loop
Staff Writer

Baylor’s Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise is bringing a well-known American political and cultural writer to speak with the Baylor community on today’s phenomena of growing consumerism.

Author Virginia Postrel will present a lecture titled, “Why Do People Buy Things They Don’t Need? Imagination, Meaning, and Economic Value” at 4 p.m. today on the fifth floor of the Cashion Academic Center.

According to her website,, Postrel’s focus of literary works and speaking engagements concentrates on the intersection of culture and commerce.

Lorynn Divita, associate professor of apparel merchandising, said she saw Postrel speak earlier this year at a conference and after hearing her, she went to the Hankamer School of Business to pitch the idea of bringing her to Baylor.

“I was fortunate enough to hear Virginia speak at the Southwest Pop Culture Association in New Mexico,” Divita said. “She does an amazing job of connecting social, psychological, cultural and economic aspects. After I heard her speak, I approached Dr. Blaine McCormick at the business school and he put me in touch with Dr. Steven Bradley also.”

Divita said both business professors had read Postrel’s previous book, “The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress,” and were interested in her being a speaker at Baylor as well.

Bradley, assistant professor of management, said he’s hoping Postrel’s lecture will spur economic talks around campus.

“What we’re trying to do is have more conversations about this on campus,” Bradley said. “Why do we buy designer trashcans instead of a regular one? She’s going to provide an interesting take on why we buy things we don’t need and human behavior.”

According to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin last year, materialism rose substantially from the mid-1970s, peaking in the late 1980s and early 1990s and has remained at historically high levels through the start of the new millennium.

“I think students will be engaged with her lecture,” Bradley said. “We overconsume and we are materialistic, but the question is where do you draw the line? It’s all about the choices people make and I’m interested to see how she presents this.”

Divita said the presentation is open to everyone and it will also provide a rare opportunity for students to see someone who is so highly respected and well-known.

“It’s not every day that someone of a national representation, who’s written for the New York Times and Allure Magazine, comes to speak at Baylor,” Divita said. “I know she’ll be a great speaker.”