Confronting Consumption

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Thomas Princen, Michael Maniates, Ken Conca
MIT Press, 2002 - Business & Economics - 382 pages
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Comforting terms such as "sustainable development" and "green production" frameenvironmental debate by stressing technology (not green enough), economic growth (not enough in theright places), and population (too large). Concern about consumption emerges, if at all, in benignways ;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 consumptionas nothing less than the purpose of the economy. Yet many people have a troubled, intuitiveunderstanding that tinkering at the margins of production and purchasing will not put society on anecologically and socially sustainable path.Confronting Consumption places consumption at the centerof debate by conceptualizing "the consumption problem" and documenting diverse efforts to confrontit. 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 ofdistancing and examines transnational chains of consumption in the context of economicglobalization. Part 3 describes citizen action through local currencies, home power, voluntarysimplicity, "ad-busting," and product certification. Together, the chapters propose "cautiousconsuming" and "better producing" as an activist and policy response to environmental problems. Thebook concludes that confronting consumption must become a driving focus of contemporaryenvironmental scholarship and activism.

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About the author (2002)

Thomas Princen is the author of The Logic of Sufficiency (2005) and lead editor of Confronting Consumption (2002), both published by the MIT Press and both winners of the International Studies Association's Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for best book on international environmental affairs. He teaches social and ecological sustainability at the University of Michigan.

Michael Maniates is Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Science at Allegheny College.

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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