How Advertising Creates Cultural Violence

What if advertising is manipulating our deepest human needs, creating a culture of insatiable desires and disconnection?

In the thought-provoking video “How Advertising Creates Cultural Violence,” Peter Joseph explores the pervasive influence of advertising in shaping a consumption-centric society and its detrimental effects on human psychology and the environment. Joseph articulates how advertising, as a fundamental arm of a consumption-based economy, skillfully manipulates humanity’s deep-seated need for social inclusion, leading to an irrational pursuit of material possessions. He critically examines the transition from an economy that initially met genuine human needs during the agrarian era to a highly efficient and productive modern system that necessitates the creation of artificial demand to sustain itself.

Joseph further discusses the inherent flaws in capitalist market economics, where the notion of progress is inextricably linked with consumption levels. This paradigm not only engenders environmental destruction but also erodes human well-being by fostering an insatiable culture of materialism. He elucidates how the promotion of materialistic values cultivates a form of “cultural violence,” where self-identity is anchored in one’s ability to consume. This societal model not only marginalizes those who cannot afford certain luxuries but also amplifies social inequalities, contributing to a culture where status and self-worth are dictated by material wealth.

The video invites viewers to contemplate the profound implications of a world devoid of advertising—a world where markets and marketing do not dictate human values and aspirations. Joseph suggests that such a world would be markedly more peaceful, sustainable, and humane, contrasting sharply with the current reality where cultural violence is perpetuated by the incessant drive for more. By challenging the conventional understanding of progress and highlighting the deep-seated issues within our consumption-driven society, “How Advertising Creates Cultural Violence” offers a critical perspective on the need for a paradigm shift towards more sustainable and equitable societal values.

Our economy is based on consumption and advertising is the arm of creating artificial demand. And without that arm, we wouldn’t have people aspiring to things that are highly irrational. When advertising presents something that seems to be what some people want, it spreads like a virus and then everybody wants it, because it is an issue of social inclusion, which is a part of our biology, because that is how we identify. We identify and define ourselves by how others see us and how we are included in the group.

So it manipulates our most primal sense of humanity in order to sell things. If we didn’t have that arm in our consumption-based society since the Industrial Revolution, the economy would collapse. That is a very unique point to make because when you first start an economy like in the agrarian society, you’re meeting demand right? That’s the point and that makes sense.

But at some point this had to change because when you have such a highly-efficient, productive economy that we have today, at least in the technical sense of what we can create, you have to have demand created now.

That is one of the central flaws of market economics or capitalism that has come to fruition today, not only destroying human psychology, but destroying the environment simultaneously, because you have an insatiable culture that has been literally generated. And then progress is defined by what we produce. The more you buy, the more you own. That must be progress now.

It’s a kind of cultural violence. The more people promote materialistic values, the more they want more and more this and that, the more they flaunt this type of phenomenon, the more they create cultural violence. Because if you create a society that thrives in this type of self-identification, you are basically also promoting not only the destruction of the environment, but the diminishment of others, because you are saying, “I can afford this. I have the status and I am better for than and this person can’t.” And we see that phenomenally amplified today in the modern world.

I often wonder what a world would be like without advertising, which would be a world without marketing and markets, and I can tell you it would be a far more peaceful and sustainable and amiable and humane than what we see today.


“It’s not a good economic system to live in, most people are over worked, stressed and its making people ineffective and sick.”

“America’s sick capitalist consumer materialistic culture exposed by Peter Joseph.”

“Peter Joseph is the spirit of the age.”


For more about Peter Joseph, check out his website.

We bring your story to life

Find out how video storytelling can help your audience resonate with your sustainable idea, research, campaign or product.

Related stories

Is our pursuit of economic growth blinding us to ecological disaster? Discover how conventional economics could be leading us astray with David Suzuki.

Get our latest video releases
in your mailbox bi-weekly

We never send solicitations or junk mail and we never give your address to anyone else.

The following is a step by step guide to translating our videos.

How to translate sustainable human videos

Here is some instruction so you can easily translate the videos.

Required Tools:

- A Computer.
- Internet Connection.
- A basic text editor program like Notepad or Wordpad.

What Is a .SRT File?

A .SRT file extension is a SubRip Subtitle file. These types of files hold video subtitle information like the start and end timecodes of the text and the sequential number of subtitles.

Steps To Translate A Video

Step 1 : Locate the appropriate .SRT file.
In the embedded spreadsheet below, find the title of the video you wish to translate. Check to be sure that your language has not been translated yet.


Step 2: Download the SRT file.
Double-click on the .SRT file for the video you wish to translate. Click on the Download button.
Step 3: Translate the file.
Open the file using any basic text editor program such as Notepad or Wordpad or equivalent. Do not open in Microsoft Word as it will corrupt the formatting. After opening the file, you want to REPLACE the English text with your language, line by line, keeping all numerical and time formatting. When you finish, rename the file with the name of the language you translated.
Step 4: Upload your new .SRT file using form below.
When you submit your translation file and provide your email, we will inform you once we have uploaded it to the video. Please allow for 24-48 hours for us to do this as it is a manual process.

How has this video story impacted you?