AP English Language and Composition
Synthesis Essay on Consumerism and Commodification
Consumerism is a term used to describe a social and economic system that encourages the ever-increasing consumption of goods and services. Commodification (or commoditization) is a related term used to describe the process of turning ideas, values, and other entities not normally regarded as a commodity (an economic product) into a commodity.
Imagine that a school district looking to make its curriculum more relevant to life in the 21st century has asked to evaluate the role of consumerism and commodification in contemporary American culture. Carefully review the sources I've provided in this unit. Then synthesize information from at least five (5) of the sources and incorporate that information into a coherent, well-developed essay that identifies the key issues associated with consumerism and commodification and that examines their implications for life in the 21st century.
Make sure that your argument is central; use the sources to illustrate and support your reasoning. Avoid merely summarizing the sources. Indicate clearly which sources you are drawing from, whether through direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary. Cite the sources using the information provided below in parentheses.
Sources in the packet
Source A (Waterson)
Source B (Kruger)
Source C (Rockwell)
Source D (Shah)
Source E (Chaddha)
Source F ("Beyond Consumerism")
Source G (Johnson)
Source H (Seel and Wilensky)
Source I (Banksy)
Source J (Merchants of Cool)
Source K (The Ad and the Ego)
Source L (The Persuaders)
Source M (Generation Like)
Source N ("Are You Happy Yet?")
Source O ("Keep Consuming")
Source P (Wexler and Taylor)*
Source Q ("What Style of Digital Shopper Are You?")
Source R (Childress)**
Source S ("Adbusters: Consumer Culture")
Source T (Gunelius)***
Source U ("There Are Seven Kinds of People in the World")
*Source P: Infographic: What are teens doing online?
**Source R: Article: How does personal information become a commodity?
***Source T: Article: What is the difference between a consumer and prosumer?
Understanding and Participating in a Societal “Conversation”:
Consumerism and Commodification
Understanding the range of positions within the “conversation”
- Read and annotate the “Consumerism and Commodification” packet by Monday, March 10.
- What is the purpose of each text in the packet? Write them down. (If the purpose is persuasion, what is the central position of the text? If the purpose is information, what is the information about and what does the information imply or suggest?) by Monday, March 10.
- In your assigned group make a map of the conversation. (In the middle of the map write “Consumerism and Commodification” in an oval. Draw lines from the oval out to the title of each text. Draw a line from the title of each text to a sentence stating the purpose of each text. Draw lines between purposes that seem related. Draw a series of x’s between purposes that seem to oppose or contradict each other. In class on Monday March 10.
Going deeper into a single text
- I will assign you a text in the packet to look at more closely. You will write a 150-200 word formal annotation. What does that mean? A formal annotation includes a summary, analysis, and evaluation of the text. (These annotations are important for creating annotated bibliographies, annotated works cited, and annotated works consulted pages. We’re not creating those now, but we’re practicing for later in the year.) Due March 11.
Identifying and examining implications of issues within the “conversation”
- Annotate the “Consumerism and Commodification” prompt on the front of the packet. Identify key words and phrases. What is the prompt asking you to do? What does it mean to “identify issues”? What does consumerism mean? What does commodification mean? What does it mean to “examine the implications”? Due March 12.
- Make a mini-map of the issues and the implications of the issues within the text you were assigned. Write the title and the purpose of the text in the middle. Connect the title/purpose to issues. Connect the issues to implications. This will help your assigned group plan a response to the prompt. Due March 12.
- Get together with your assigned group. Together you will make a map of the issues and implications in the whole packet.
- First your group will work from the mini-maps you created in step 5. Write “Consumerism and Commodification” in the middle. Draw a line to each issue your group members identified in their mini-maps. Connect each issue to one or more implication. Then connect each issue/implication strand to the particular texts in the packet related to the issue/implication. Do in class March 12.
- Then you’ll link up with other groups. Add to your map using other groups’ ideas about issues related to consumerism and commodification, the implications of those issues, and the texts that contain those issues and suggest those implications. Do in class March 12 and 13.
Entering the conversation
- Read and annotate the “locavore” prompt and essay you are given. Make a map of the essay. Put the author’s central argument in the middle. Connect the central argument to issues. Connect issues to implications. Connect issues/implications to support from sources. What does the map reveal about the effectiveness of the essay’s response to the prompt? Due March 14.
- Use your group’s map of the issues and implications to make a map of your own that you will use as the basis for a response to the consumerism and commodification prompt. Put your central argument in the middle. Connect the central argument to issues. Connect issues to implications. Connect issues/implications to support from sources. Do in class March 14.
- Write, self/peer assess, and revise an essay in response to the consumerism and commodification prompt. (Note: Using the locavore essay as a model we will all create narrative openings this time.) Complete first draft due March 18. Final draft due March 20.
At the end you’ll have
- informal annotations of each text in the packet
- a list of statements about the purpose of each text in the packet
- a group map of the “conversation”
- a formal annotation (summary, analysis, evaluation) of one text in the packet
- an annotated prompt (on the front of the packet)
- a mini-map of the issues/implications within the text you were assigned
- a group map of the issues/implications within the whole packet
- a mini-map of the “locavore” essay
- a pre-writing map to help you write your own essay
- an essay addressing the “commodification and consumerism” prompt. (You will have at least two drafts of the essay. The first draft will show evidence of self/peer assessment.)