Today’s Institutions seem to be constantly conspiring to cut us down to size, diminish our individual significance. Whatever your particular role may be-teacher, business person, manual laborer, public servant-you can feel it. Even in the role of customer, you can feel it, as psychologist Erich Fromm has observed. He says,
A drastic change has occurred in the role of customer in the last decades. The customer who went into a retail store owned by an independent businessman was sure to get personal attention; his individual purchase was important to the owner of the store; he was received like somebody who mattered; his wishes were studied; the very act of buying gave him a feeling of importance and dignity. How different is the relationship of a customer to a department store. He is impressed by the vastness of the building, the number of employees, the profusion of commodities displayed; all this makes him feel small and unimportant by comparison. As an individual he is of…
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