Top academic against consumerism

In: Uncategorized

11 Jun 2009

A sophisticated attack on consumerism from a particularly influential source. Amitai Etzioni, a former president of the American Sociological Association, argues in an article in The New Republic (17 June) for a cultural change in America: “What needs to be eradicated, or at least greatly tempered, is consumerism: the obsession with acquisition that has become the organizing principle of American life.” In its place he proposes communitarian pursuits (relations between individuals and with their community ) and trescendental ones (spiritual activities including religious contemplative and articistic ones).

Etzioni three channels through which a new shared understanding of consumption can evolve:

* Education. Including, among other things, school uniforms to counter conspicuous consumption.

* Workplace. For example, limits on overtime, shorter working weeks, more flexible work.

* Legislation. Including taxes to encourage people to have smaller cars and use public transport rather than cars.

Growth scepticism really does come from the top rather than being a bottom-up movement.