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Currently Browsing: Consumer Culture

Living Better on Less? Toward an Economics of Sufficiency

My last article summarised a longer paper I have just finished called “Living Better on Less? Toward an Economics of Sufficiency.” This paper reviews the social research that examines the relationship between income and happiness. The central question I ask is: How important is money to happiness? The weight of evidence suggests that income growth tends to contribute positively to human... read more

The Simple Life has Benefits for All of Us

The following article was published in The Age today (16 March). The online newspaper version is available here. Increasing material wealth has been, and remains, one of the dominant goals of humankind – perhaps the dominant goal. This is hardly surprising, of course, given the extremely low material living standards endured by most people throughout history, and indeed, by great multitudes around the... read more

The High Price of Materialism

Tim Kasser is a psychologist that has spent many years researching into the effects of materialistic values and practices on human wellbeing. I highly recommend his excellent book, “The High Price of Materialism,” but for those who only have five minutes to spare, many of the key insights of that text are summarised in a new educational video Kasser has made. It’s only five minutes long,... read more

Toward a Foucauldian Ethics of Sustainable Consumption

I’ve turned my last post ‘Self-Cultivation and the Art of Voluntary Simplicity’ into an essay, which itself is based on the rather-too-long manuscript I posted a few months ago, called ‘Voluntary Simplicity as an Aesthetics of Existence.’ I hope this much abridged essay might be less daunting, despite the fact that it is framed by Foucault’s ethics. I’ve posted the... read more

Self-Cultivation and the Art of Voluntary Simplicity

Consumption is a proper subject of ethical concern primarily for the following three reasons: (1) the planet’s resources are being consumed at an unsustainable rate, and this is placing in jeopardy the future of life as we know it, with potentially catastrophic consequences; (2) a small percentage of the world’s population live in relative comfort and luxury while great multitudes live in material... read more

Peak Oil Can Fuel a Change for the Better

I managed to get an article on peak oil published in a mainstream newspaper today (The Age). It’s available here: Peak Oil Can Fuel a Change for the Better. Thanks to all those who came down to the talk in City Square last night. During discussion time, when the audience was throwing ideas and perspectives around, I found myself reflecting on how amazing it was that a large group of people were... read more

Peak Oil, Energy Descent, and the Fate of Consumerism

My new paper ‘Peak Oil, Energy Descent, and the Fate of Consumerism’ can be downloaded here, and it has also been published on the Energy Bulletin. I’ve reposted the abstract below. Abstract: Western-style consumer lifestyles are highly resource and energy intensive. This paper examines the energy intensity of these consumer lifestyles and considers whether such lifestyles could be... read more

Free Public Talk in Melbourne’s City Square

Greetings all, and happy new year, I’m giving a talk on peak oil and consumerism in Melbourne’s City Square this Tuesday 10 January, at 7pm. The talk will go for around 40 mins followed by about 40 mins discussion. For those of you in Melbourne, it would be great to see some of down there if you can make it.  I’ve posted an overview below and will publish the paper in a few days... read more

Ten Most Popular Posts of 2011

As the year draws to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the readers of this website for their support and contributions. Our community is now over 1,000 strong, and I’m very much looking forward to exploring voluntary simplicity, and all it entails, with you in 2012. Now, more than ever before, we need to be reimagining the good life beyond consumer culture. I have plans to relaunch... read more

The Best Books I’ve Read This Year: Need Ideas for an Oppositional Xmas?

At a time when the world’s most respected scientists affirm that ordinary Western-style consumption habits are indeed destroying the planet, what attitudes should we have toward the corporate event known as Christmas? Should we still be seeking salvation through over-consumption? Or is it high time to embrace some form of enlightened material restraint? The materialistic orgy that is Christmas, of... read more
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