Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Thrift and Thriving in AmericaCapitalism and Moral Order from the Puritans to the Present$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Joshua Yates and James Davison Hunter

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199769063

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199769063.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2021

Thrift and Waste in American History

Thrift and Waste in American History

An Ecological View

(p.508) 21 Thrift and Waste in American History
Thrift and Thriving in America

J. R. McNeill

George Vrtis

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the history of how Americans have wrestled with the competing social visions of economic growth and ecological thrift. On the one hand, the story of waste is a story of American exceptionalism: endowed with unusual material abundance, technical know-how, and political freedom, Americans created “a cultural format in which endless consumption rivaled spiritual grace as the path to worthiness and fulfillment.” Yet, in contrast to what they call the “cornucopian vision,” there arose a concern for ecological conservation and protection that would eventually give birth to the modern environmental movement. Nature and culture form a double helix in American history, causing the perennial struggle between thrift and profligacy to swing decidedly in favor of the latter. Still, the American propensity for excessive wastefulness provoked periodic backswings in the direction of careful husbandry, the repercussions of which are still at work today in the greening of thrift.

Keywords:   American culture, economic growth, ecological thrift, exceptionalism, environmental movement

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .