This chapter is prompted by what justifiably may be labelled the paradox of affluence, by which we mean the deterioration in quality of life despite or because of sustained growth in consumption (Danner, 1974; Bookchin, 1974; Seabrook, 1978). This proposition is unlikely to startle anyone with its novelty but it is subject to considerable controversy and topicality that justify efforts toward more systematic discussion. This chapter first reviews Mitchell’s old but remarkably fresh discussion of the backward art of spending money, then turns to more recent literature on the question of consumer competence. The suggestion is that a large gap exists between the responsibility assigned to consumers and their ability to fulfill this role. This gap is then put forward as resolving the paradox of affluence, which in turn suggests that social progress awaits a new practical philosophy which is materialist in the proper sense of the term.
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- Consumption in Contemporary Capitalism: The Backward Art of Living
James Ronald Stanfield
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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