Excess

Excess : Anti-consumerism in the West

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Description

Over-consumption is one of the key issues of our time, especially in the Western world. Over the past decade, in the face of historically unprecedented levels of consumer spending in the West - and the more recent impact of recession - a vigorous politics of anti-consumerism has emerged in a range of wealthy nations.
This timely and original new book provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of what has come to be called the 'new politics of consumption'; a politics embodied in movements such as culture jamming, simple living, slow food and fair trade. The book offers an examination of anti-consumerism at a time when the idea of 'consumer excess' is being re-framed by a global economic downturn, and crucially explores what this means for the future of political debate. Drawing on interviews with activists across three continents, and offering a refreshingly accessible discussion of contemporary commentary and theory, Kim Humphery sympathetically explores anti-consumerism as cultural interpretation, lifestyle change, and collective action.
Whilst analysing the positive advances of the anti-consumerist movement, Excess also challenges contemporary critical thinking on consumption, taking issue with the return to theories of mass culture in contemporary anti-consumerist polemic. Alternatively, Humphery begins to forge a politics of anti-consumerism that addresses the complexity of material acquisition and which avoids treating consumers as mere dupes in the logic of capitalism, viewing them instead as active participants in a culture which is capable of transformation.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 134.62 x 210.82 x 25.4mm | 362.87g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745645410
  • 9780745645414
  • 828,307

Back cover copy

Over-consumption is one of the key issues of our time; especiallyin the Western world. Over the past decade, in the face ofhistorically unprecedented levels of consumer spending in the West- and the more recent threat of economic recession - avigorous politics of anti-consumerism has emerged in a range ofwealthy nations.

This timely and original new book provides a comprehensiveoverview and analysis of what has come to be called the 'newpolitics of consumption'; a politics embodied in movementssuch as culture jamming, simple living, slow food and fair trade.The book offers an examination of anti-consumerism at a time whenthe idea of 'consumer excess' is being re-framed byglobal recession, and crucially explores what this means for thefuture of the debates. Drawing on interviews with activists acrossthree continents, and offering a refreshingly accessible discussionof contemporary commentary and theory, Kim Humphery sympatheticallyexplores anti-consumerism as cultural interpretation, lifestylechange, and collective action.

While analysing the positive advances of the anti-consumeristmovement, Excess: Anti-consumerism in the West alsochallenges contemporary critical thinking on consumerism. Humpherytakes issue with the return to theories of mass culture in thecontemporary anti-consumerist polemic and with the tendency forcritics to indulge in a high moralism, a pop psychologism, and aself-helpism, all directed more so at the individual as consumerthan at the institutions of commercial and political power thatdrive the systems of consumption. Alternatively, Humphery begins toforge a politics of anti-consumerism that addresses the complexityof material acquisition, which avoids treating consumers as meredupes in the logic of capitalism, viewing them instead as activeparticipants in a culture which is capable of transformation.
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Table of contents

Preface vii
Acknowledgements xiv
Introduction: Trouble in Consumer Paradise 1
1 The New Politics of Consumption 15
2 Anti-Consumerism in Action 49
3 Encountering Anti-Consumerism 81
4 Interpreting Material Life 110
5 Consuming Differently 153
Postscript: After the Boom, Beyond the West 178
Notes 184
Bibliography 230
Index 254
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Review quote

"Highly recommended. Graduate students/faculty". (Choice, 1 November 2010) "Written in accessible if academic prose, Humphery's book explores this question in more complex and nuanced ways than is often the case in existing theoretical and populist reactions, which naively reject consumerism outright." Green World "[A] sophisticated analysis of consumerism." The Australian "There could hardly be a more timely issue - nor a more compelling study of the historical and political implications of the excess that may well be crushing the world as we knew it." Charles Lemert, Wesleyan University "Excess offers an insightful view of the many dimensions of consumption reformers must address--from the waste economy to environmental degradation, and from unhappiness at too much choice to the stress of too little money. Humphery dares us to hope that we can create a better vision of the good life without giving up our pleasures." Sharon Zukin, Brooklyn College, and author of Point of Purchase: How Shopping Changed American Culture
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About Kim Humphery

Kim Humphrey, Associate Professor of History and Social Theory, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
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