Today I’m happy to be posting two interesting and insightful essays by Dr Amanda McLeod: (1) “Self-Suffciency in a ‘Time of Plenty’: Mass Consumerism and Freedom in 1970s Australia”; and (2) “Consumer Choice: Another Case of Deceptive Advertising?” I’ve posted abstracts to both essays below, and the full essays are freely available from the links provided.
“Self-Sufficiency in a ‘Time of Plenty’: Mass Consumerism and Freedom in 1970s Australia” – full essay here.
This article examines the notion of post-industrial self-sufficiency in Australia in the early 1970s. Against the backdrop of more than twenty years of economic prosperity from which the majority of Australians had benefited, an increasingly dissatisfied minority voluntarily chose to ‘opt out’ of mainstream society to live a life of intentional poverty. Despite their material affluence, those who were drawn to self-sufficiency did not feel free under the constraints of mass consumerism. Their solution would be to reunite the dual spheres of production and consumption to regain control over their lives by providing as much of their needs as possible themselves. Thus, to understand the complexities of the movement (and the failings of the consumerist ideal) this paper contends that one needs to view post-industrial self-sufficiency as much a product of post-war consumer capitalism as a reaction against it.
Keywords: Consumer Capitalism; Consumption; Freedom; Mass Consumerism; Production; Self-Sufficiency
In theory consumers have significant power in the marketplace. They have the power to choose to buy one product over another, the power to switch brands and ignore marketing messages. Australian consumers, like their counterparts across the developed world, have almost unlimited choices. However, more choice doesn’t always mean better choice. Indeed, many of our choices may have unwanted consequences not the least over-consumption and negative environmental impact. This paper explores this notion of consumer choice.
Keywords: consumer choice, marketing, mass consumerism, sufficiency, sustainable consumption