Confronting Consumption / Edition 1

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Comforting terms such as "sustainable development" and "green production" frame environmental debate by stressing technology (not green enough), economic growth (not enough in the right places), and population (too large). Concern about consumption emerges, if at all, in benign ways ;as calls for green purchasing or more recycling, or for small changes in production processes. Many academics,policymakers, and journalists, in fact, accept the economists' view of consumption as nothing less than the purpose of the economy. Yet many people have a troubled,intuitive understanding that tinkering at the margins of production and purchasing will not put society on an ecologically and socially sustainable path.Confronting Consumption places consumption at the center of debate by conceptualizing "the consumption problem" and documenting diverse efforts to confront it. In Part 1, the book frames consumption as a problem of political and ecological economy,emphasizing core concepts of individualization and commoditization. Part 2 develops the idea of distancing and examines transnational chains of consumption in the context of economic globalization. Part 3 describes citizen action through local currencies, home power, voluntary simplicity, "ad-busting," and product certification. Together, the chapters propose "cautious consuming" and "better producing" as an activist and policy response to environmental problems. The book concludes that confronting consumption must become a driving focus of contemporary environmental scholarship and activism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A Comprehensive analysis of how and why consumer society wreaks havoc on Earth."

" excellent exploration of what could turn out to be one of the frontrank issues of our time." Norman Myers Nature

"Are you willing to confront consumption?...then read this book." Vicki Robin Journal of Positive Futures

"... read this book." Vicki Robin Journal of Positive Futures

"The authors are to be commended for breaking the code of silence surrounding consumption and engaging the debate." Richard Walthers Green @ Work Magazine

"The book certainly succeeds in thinking 'outside the box'..." Global Environmental Politics

"The book certainly succeeds in thinking 'outside the box'." Global Environmental Politics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262661287
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Princen explores ecological and economic sustainability at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Treading Softly: Paths to Ecological Order and The Logic of Sufficiency (both published by the MIT Press).

Michael Maniates is Professor of Political Science and Environmental Science at Allegheny College. He is the coeditor, with Thomas Princen and Ken Conca, of Confronting Consumption (MIT Press, 2002).

Ken Conca is Associate Professor of Government and Politics and Director of the Harrison Program on the Future Global Agenda at the University of Maryland.

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Table of Contents

1 Confronting Consumption
Thomas Princen, Michael Maniates, Ken Conca
Part I The Consumption Angle
2 Consumption and its Externalities: Where Economy Meets Ecology Thomas Princen
3 Individualization: Plant a Tree, Buy A Bike, Save the World? Michael Maniates
4 Commoditization: Consumption Efficiency and
an Economy of Care and Connection Jack Manno
Part II Chains of Consumption
5 Distancing: Consumption and the Severing of Feedback Thomas Princen
6 Consumption and Environment in a Global Political Economy Ken Conca
7 The Distancing of Waste: Overconsumption in a Global Economy Jennifer Clapp
8 Environmentally Damaging Consumption: The Impact of American Markets
on Tropical Ecosystems in the Twentieth Century Richard Tucker
Part III On the Ground
9 In Search of Consumptive Resistance: The Voluntary Simplicity Movement Michael Maniates
10 Jamming Culture: Adbusters' Hip Campaign Against Consumerism
Marilyn Bordwell
11 Think Globally, Transact Locally: The Local Currency Movement
and Green Political Economy
Eric Helleiner
12 Caveat Certificatum: The Case of Forest Certification
Fred Gale
13 Citizens or Consumers: The Home Power Movement
as a New Practice of Technology
Jesse Tatum
14 Conclusion: To Confront Consumption
Thomas Princen, Michael Maniates, Ken Conca
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2003

    Best Book in Global Environmental Affairs

    This award-winning book ("The Best Book in Global Environmental Affairs" according to the International Studies Association) offers an accessible and engaging analysis of the 800 pound gorilla in the living room that environmentalists find difficult to talk about with force: overconsumption. The early portion of the book documents the problem; the middle chunk offers a set of mental lenses for making sense of our quandry; and the final chapters offer real-life stories of actors and movements (the voluntary simplicity movement, for example, and the home power and local currency movements too) challenging the upward escalating trajectory of the consumption of "stuff." What's especially helpful about the book -- in addition to its "something for everyone" flavor -- is that it moves beyond simplistic prescriptions to "squash advertising" or "buy recycled products." Indeed, it is rather skeptical of these measures, which it views as diversionary activities meant to take our eye off the underlying forces at war with the planet. Instead, it offers strategies for coming together collectively to challenge broader powers and structures that make it so difficult for people worried about the future of the planet to live more with less.

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