London (April 12, 2010) Consumer Society by Barry Smart published this month by SAGE challenges the assumptions about consumer choice and the benefits of increasing consumerism. The book argues that continuing pursuit of increasing levels of economic growth and ever-increasing consumerism is socially undesirable and ecologically unsustainable. It provides a powerful and lucid critical analysis of modern consumer society and its social, economic, and environmental consequences by drawing on historical studies and social and economic analyses of consumerism and engaging critically with research documenting the consequences modern consumer lifestyles have had for individuals, communities, societies, and the environment.
Ever-increasing consumption and a relentless pursuit of growth in output are the twin pillars on which the modern economy and contemporary social life rest. But the consumer way of life is globally unsustainable. We can't all live the consumer dream. The book examines what factors are contributing to the continuing growth in consumption of goods and services? At what point do the costs associated with consumerism begin to call our way of life into question? How are the problems of resource depletion, waste and pollution, and environmental impact being addressed? What is to be done about the consequences of our all-consuming way of life?
Adept in handling a complex range of classical and contemporary theoretical sources, the book draws on an impressive range of comparative material and provides a variety of contemporary examples to inform and enhance understanding of our consuming way of life. Smart writes with verve and feeling and has produced a stimulating book that enlarges our understanding of consumer culture and provides a timely critical analysis of its consequences.
Clear, engaging, and original this book will be essential reading for all those interested in and concerned about our global culture of consumption including researchers and students in sociology, politics, cultural studies, economics, and social geography.
Barry Smart is Professor of Sociology at University of Portsmouth. He has worked at universities in Australia, England, Japan and New Zealand. He lectured at the University of Sheffield until 1988 and was then Associate-Professor at Auckland University before joining Portsmouth in 1995.
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