Currently Browsing: Consumer Culture
Jan 27, 2011
Barry Schwartz is a sociology professor at Swarthmore College and author of The Paradox of Choice. In this talk, he explains how and why the abundance of consumer choice in modern society is actually making people miserable.
But far from being a litany of despair, his is ultimately a message of hope, and a message implicitly supportive of the Simplicity Movement. Don’t think buying stuff through...
Jan 27, 2011
Until 2011, I spent a total of about 4 minutes on social media like Facebook, MySpace, etc. I signed up for an account a couple of years ago, but then immediately forgot my password and, until very recently, never looked back. Like many others, I feel that social media is consuming an alarming amount of people’s time and energy, often in ways that seem rather wasteful and uninspired.
(Tweet: “I just...
Jan 26, 2011
‘Affluenza’ can be defined as a collective psychological disorder that leaves people feeling deprived despite their plenty. The link below leads to an insightful and powerfully argued video lecture on the subject.
The 29 minute lecture is delivered by Richard Denniss, who is the Executive Director of Australia’s most influential think-tank, the Australia Institute. Denniss is also the...
Jan 12, 2011
A more sophisticated critique of voluntary simplicity arises out of theories of consumption which recognize that commodities have come to play a role in our lives that go well beyond their material functionality. These theories hold that commodities also function symbolically as social artefacts through which people express and create their identities and in which people seek not just satisfaction, but...
Jan 11, 2011
In the developed regions of the world today, such as North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, etc., decades of unprecedented economic growth have all but solved the economic problem of how to secure the necessaries of life and, indeed, have resulted in most people living lives of relative luxury and comfort. Though a small residue of poverty remains in these regions, on the whole...
Jan 10, 2011
Aside from blaming over-population, a second mainstream response to the ecological crisis is to claim that science and technology will save the planet. From this perspective, rather than focusing on reducing consumption or population, what primarily needs to happen is for scientific or technological advancements to make the production of commodities more efficient; that is, to make commodities...
Jan 9, 2011
The last post suggested that living more simply will be a necessary part of any transition to an ecologically sustainable society. To support the contention that current consumption patterns are unsustainable, and that low-consumption lifestyles are necessary, here is a brief scientific review of the ecological impacts of economic activity today.
The Living Planet Report 2008, based on the...
Jan 6, 2011
There are also social or communitarian incentives for embracing a life of voluntary simplicity. For example, when an individual embraces voluntary simplicity by working less, this may well benefit the individual (e.g. by creating more leisure and reducing stress). But those individual benefits will often have flow on effects that benefit others too, such as creating more time and energy for family and...
Jan 2, 2011
Money provides power in the market – power to purchase and consume desired commodities, whether goods or services. Consumption, by satisfying market preferences, is supposed to lead to well-being. In essence, this is the economic foundation of consumer culture. Its fundamental prescription is that people should seek well-being in higher incomes and more consumption. The problem, however, as Juliet...
Dec 17, 2010
The other day I saw a Christmas card which read, “The faster we destroy the planet, the sooner Jesus will be here.”
First it made me laugh; then it made me think. At a time when the world’s most respected scientists affirm that ordinary Western consumption habits are indeed destroying the planet, what attitudes should we have toward the corporate event known as Christmas? Should we still be seeking...