Architecture Program


Date of this Version

Spring 4-16-2015


Golgert, Nolan S. "Materialism: The Search for Something More" Master's Thesis, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2015


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Architecture, Under the Supervision of Professor Betsy Gabb. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Nolan Sanders Golgert


“Part of our troubles results from the tendency to ascribe to architects – or, for that matter, to all specialists – exceptional insight into problems of living when, in truth, most of them are concerned with problems of business and prestige. Besides, the art of living is neither taught nor encouraged in this country. We look at it as a form of debauch. Little aware that its tenets are frugality, cleanliness, and a general respect for creation, not to mention Creation.”

– Bernard Rudofsky (Rudofsky, 1964)

– Life is complicated – because of this, specialists derive narratives as readings for the living. Too often, these narratives are simplified to guide erroneous expectations of conformity within the collective. Ironically, those who adopt these influenced experiences put the very collective they are a part of at risk. They devalue the well-being of community by privileging a singular expression of reality. Materialism is one of those readings. The product of an enterprise culture, materialism as a narrative for living ignores the complexities entailed by reality. In spite of the infinite number of readings that exist, simplified narratives attempt to claim that life is simple – they try to be maps for living. And like most maps, they inevitably become unreliable for their original purpose. Living is not a matter of business and prestige. Materialism is a matter of business and prestige. The modern states’ preference for simplified narratives endangers the individual’s sense of self. By diverting attention from the art of living, the modern state has over-used materialism as a form of governance. This thesis intends to discover if a new reading of materialism can be found as a form of liberation. The work found within this document is the culmination put forth over the last three years. Consisting of three major sections, the first section is critical as it grounds the entire discussion by defining materialism through the review of literature.

Adviser: Betsy Gabb