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Self-Sufficiency in a ‘Time of Plenty’

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

“Consumer Choice: Another Case of Deceptive Advertising?” – full essay here

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

One Response to “Self-Sufficiency in a ‘Time of Plenty’”

  1. SJ says:

    An interesting paper (refering to the first essay)but it misses some important factors. Firstly the whole counter culture that encapsulated the alternate life style was almost main stream in the ealy seventies. Driven by films like Easy Rider, it was a fashionable and romantic notion. Many people jumped on the band wagon with out much thought. Travelling Australia in an old car with no real destination was at least as popular as an expression of freedom at the time. A common dream amongst those on the road was to buy some cheap land somewhere and live of the land ect. Most of them had run home to the city by the late seventies leaving the hard core minority. Another major influence not touched on hear was the availability of low guilt welfare that allowed people to have a cash core to there existance which could be supplimented with self sufficiency. Previous generations had attached great shame to ending up on welfare or didn’t have any, but the counter culture of the time made it almost fashionable, at least in many circles. Now days there is much more rigour required to remain on welfare removing the attraction to a great extent. My experience was that many alternate life stylers took dole and many didn’t but it was a factor for sure and I guess it was the wealth generated by consumerism that afforded the easy welfare. Another one of those paradox’s.

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