Thorstein Veblen addressed the topic of consumerism in his book "The Theory of the Leisure Class." During this time period with increased urbanization, consumerism was the act of people buying bigger, more expensive things that they didn't really need, but did it in order to up their class status. Veblen argued that this turn in American culture and society was characterized by people wasting both their time and mon. The term came to be known as conspicuous consumption, which Veblen demonstrated after witnessing the turn in American culture and society.
Cultural Activities that emerged in this time was watching sports, like a lot of people do today. This was partially caused by an increase in money. People also practiced their own religion. When immigration started to increase with increased urbanization, a huge Catholicism movement occurred. Fairs were also introduced in this time, the "World's Columbian Expansion" fair being the first introduced in Chicago in 1893. This fair was the first to have a Ferris wheel in it. Fairs quickly became a thing that brought people together and were made part of America's new culture.
During this time period a new middle class emerged that allowed more time for leisure. Now that people had more time and money than ever before they were eager to spend the newfound time and money outside the workplace. Much of the middle class turned to sports as either spectators or participants. Those who were not interested in athletics turned to other leisure-time activities such as barroom games. Previously luxury leisure activities were enjoyed by upper-class citizens, however, during this time upper and middle class people were spending time on sports and recreation. This led to competition between the classes and they became conscious of their social status which led to extravagant spending. Unskilled workers still lacked the means to be able to participate in leisurely activities that the middle class could participate in. Soon Barroom games and saloon-sponsored teams became very popular in lower-class neighborhoods.
Baseball was a huge sport that was practiced throughout the United States since its creation as a sport in 1839. However, it wasn't until the year 1880 that people started to get an interest in watching baseball. Attendance rates seen at the games more than doubled during this time period when people had more time and money to do what they wanted. Professional football, basketball, and golf also surged in popularity at this time. They began to be offered at the collegiate level.
America's New Unique Culture
Overall, with increased urbanization and an increase in technology American culture and life drastically changed during the late 1800s. This marked the era of the modern American Society and showed a drastic change in consumerism. New sports came about and people started doing different things for leisure. This led many Americans to a better lifestyle that allowed for a more modern society.