Julian Baggini, the British philosopher whose thought experiments I often use with my "Philosophically Speaking" students, provides an interesting look at the role language plays in how we think about the things themselves and then considers specifically the difference between "consumers" and "citizens":
"When we think of ourselves as consumers ... we obscure another important identity we have: citizens. Whereas consumers are atomised, autonomous decision-makers, citizens are socialised members of society. Citizens do not see their sphere of influence as limited to who they personally trade with. Consumers value independence, citizens recognise our interdependence. Consumers demand and choose, citizens participate and create. Alexander and Ekkeshis [of the New Citizenship Project] point to research that suggests that when we are primed to think of ourselves as consumers we make more selfish choices and become less trusting than when we are primed to think of ourselves as citizens."
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