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Social Opulence and Private RestraintThe Consumer in British Socialist Thought Since 1800$
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Noel Thompson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199646012

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646012.001.0001

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Gathering the Fragments

Gathering the Fragments

Critiquing the New Consumerism

(p.158) (p.159) 6 Gathering the Fragments
Social Opulence and Private Restraint

Noel Thompson

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the critique of consumption and consumer behaviour by late-twentieth and early-twenty-first-century socialist writers. It identifies the varied and diffuse nature of that critique which has centred around a number of disparate themes. These include the challenge to the notion of consumer rationality and freedom, the decentring of work and the erosion of social identity and the social dimension of humanity’s existence as a consequence of consumerism, the commodification of public provision, the failure of consumption to deliver human happiness, the ecosocialist critique of consumerism and the calls for greater simplicity of living and consumer restraint as the basis for a greater environmental and social opulence. The chapter also considers writers’ views on the possibility and consequences of a more ethical consumption.

Keywords:   consumer, consumerism, consumption, ecosocialism, ethical consumption, simplicity, restraint, public service, socialism

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