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Environmental Social Sciences and Sustainable Consumption

  • By: Gert Spaargaren & Arthur P. J. Mol
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

Although consumption is recognized as bringing pleasure, comfort, and convenience, environmental side effects can cast dark shadows over consumption, turning it into an overall negative phenomenon. Confronting consumption for many social analysts (e.g., Princen, Maniates, and Conca 2002) means developing a critical analysis of the “treadmill of consumption” as implied in the capitalist foundation of our modern production-consumption organization. Among the myriad goods and services delivered to citizen-consumers to help organize their everyday lives, the car and the hamburger stand out as the negative icons of modern consumer culture. Together with plastic throwaway bags and coffee cups, long-distance flying, and the use of air conditioners and Jacuzzis, they are used by environmental scientists to develop their critical discourse of unsustainable consumption, the dark side of ...

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