Consumer Society: Critical Issues and Environmental Consequences
Publication Year: 2010
Has consumer culture got out of hand? Are the costs of universal access and pollution too great to bear?This comprehensive, lively and informative book will quickly be recognized as a benchmark in the field. It brings together a huge set of resources for thinking about consumer culture and examining its origins and consequences within a global context. Adept in handling a complex range of theories, Consumer Society scrupulously uses examples throughout to inform and enhance understanding. Smart writes with verve and feeling and has produced a book that simultaneously covers and enlarges our understanding of consumer culture. Clear, engaging and original, this book will be important reading for all those interested in our global culture of consumption including students of sociology, social geography and cultural ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Consuming: Historical and Conceptual Issues
- Chapter 2: Consumer Choice: Rhetoric and Reality
- Chapter 3: Cultivating Consumers: Advertising, Marketing, and Branding
- Chapter 4: Designing Obsolescence, Promoting Consumer Demand
- Chapter 5: Globalization and Modern Consumer Culture
- Chapter 6: Consequences of Consumerism
- Chapter 7: An Unsustainable All-Consuming World
- Chapter 8: Consuming Futures I: Business as Usual
- Chapter 9: Consuming Futures II: ‘Green’ and Sustainable Alternatives
© Barry Smart 2010
First published 2010
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
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I would like to thank colleagues and students who have contributed to the development of various sections of the book and Doug Kellner in particular for his detailed comments on the manuscript as a whole.
In Chapters 2, 5, 7, and 8 I have drawn on and developed material from two essays, ‘(Dis)interring postmodernism or a critique of the political economy of consumer choice’, published in Reconstructing Postmodernism Critical Debates (2007) edited by Jason Powell and Tim Owen, and ‘Made in America: the unsustainable all-consuming global free-market “utopia”’, published in Globalization and Utopia: Critical Essays (2009) edited by Patrick Hayden and Chamsy El-Ojeili. I would like to thank the respective editors for their comments on the essays. Also the analysis in one section of Chapter 5 benefited from helpful comments I received from Roland Robertson and Richard Giulianotti on an earlier journal article ‘Not playing around: global capitalism, modern sport and consumer culture’, published in Global Networks (2007).
Finally, I would like to thank Chris Rojek for his editorial advice and support, Jai Seaman and Katherine Haw for providing help whenever I needed it.
[Page vii]We must not forget that the boiling heat of modern capitalistic culture is connected with heedless consumption of resources, for which there are no substitutes.
Max Weber, the Congress of Arts and Science, Universal Exposition, St Louis, 1904
Too much and too long we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product, if we judge the United States of America by that …counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts …the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play … It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. Robert F Kennedy, the University of Kansas March 18th 1968
We know that our present mode of life is without future; that the children we will bring into the world will use neither oil nor a number of now-familiar metals during their adult lives … We know that our world is ending; that if we go on as before, the oceans and the rivers will be sterile, the soil infertile, the air unbreathable in the cities … We know that for a hundred and fifty years industrial society has developed through the accelerated looting of reserves whose creation required tens of millions of years. Andre Gorz (1975)Ecology as Politics*
And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect, for the world has changed, and we must change with it.
Barack Obama, 44th President of the USA, Inauguration Speech, January 20th 2009
* Reproduced with permission from Pluto Press, http://www.plutobooks.com[Page viii]
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