Excess: Anti-consumerism in the West
December 2009, Polity
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Consumerism has, at every stage of the economic cycle, boom or bust, always paraded itself as the prize of life.
The new book by John Wiley and Sons, EXCESS: Anti-consumerism in the West offers an insightful analysis of anti-consumerism by questioning the belief that consumerism is the underlying condition for economic prosperity and is thus a permanent and systemic imperative to the modern civilization.
Written by Kim Humphrey, Associate Professor of History and Social Theory at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, EXCESS: Anti-consumerism in the West is an exploration of the positive advances made by the anti-consumerist movement at a time when the idea of consumer excess is being re-framed by the global recession.
“Consumerism is conventionally understood as referring not to the consumption of goods and services per se, but to the endless desire and routinely wasteful consumption of affluent economies. Scholars have unceasingly portrayed consumerism as paradigmatic of a capitalist modernity and a way of life. By 2008, however, warnings of the consumer culture turned to lament, with many social critics laying blame for the pulverized global financial market”, said Humphrey.
EXCESS: Anti-consumerism in the West draws on interviews with activists across three continents, offering a refreshingly accessible discussion of contemporary commentary and theory. It focuses on the protests against affluence and the polemics that target the excesses of consumer economies. This book also contributes to the existing dialogue surrounding consumerism by rethinking how and why consumerism is maintained over time, and the reasons behind why certain forms of consumption must be opposed.
This timely and original book moves towards a reinterpretation of Western consumerism, and offers a new alternative to the current anti-consumerism movement in a world in transition.