Confronting Consumption

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Overview

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."syracuseculturalworkers.org

"...an 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 EnvironmentalPolitics

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262162081
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2002
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Princen is the author of The Logic of Sufficiency and lead editor ofConfronting Consumption, both published by the MIT Press and both winners of theInternational Studies Association's Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for best book on international environmental affairs. He teaches social and ecological sustainability at the University ofMichigan.

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

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

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Table of Contents

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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