This is a book for those looking for different answers to some of today's most fundamental questions. What is a consumer society? Does being a consumer make us less authentic or more materialistic? How and why do we shop? How should we understand the economy? Is our seemingly insatiable desire for goods destroying the planet? Can we reconcile curbs on consumption with goals such as reducing poverty and social inequality?
Miller responds to these questions by proposing feasible and, where possible, currently available alternatives, drawn mainly from his own original ethnographic research. Here you will find shopping analysed as a technology of love, clothing that sidesteps politics in tackling issues of immigration. There is an alternative theory of value that does not assume the economy is intelligent, scientific, moral or immoral. We see Coca-Cola as an example of localization, not globalization. We learn why the response to climate change will work only when we reverse our assumptions about the impact of consumption on citizens. Given the evidence that consumption is now central to the way we create and maintain our core values and relationships, the conclusions differ dramatically from conventional and accepted views as to its consequences for humanity and the planet.
'Makes me wish fervently that it was Miller who was regularly invited to offer critical commentary on materialism, consumerism or climate change policy on BBC Radio 4 and not the usual public intellectuals who do little more than echo received wisdom ... His insights here deserve a wider hearing.'
Times Higher Education book of the week
'There are some curious moments in this book but, at its core, there's a very important observation - people aren't mindless drones who buy whatever the advertising agencies tell them to buy. Sometimes we act that way because we want to keep up with the Joneses but, from time to time, the objects we put in our shopping baskets reflect our ethical and social values and play a part in sustaining our most cherished relationships.'
Geographical book of the month
'This engagingly written book addresses some of the central dilemmas of contemporary global society: how to sustain a developed-world, consumerist lifestyle in the face of wrenching economic shifts and accelerating climate change. The topic is urgent, the prescriptions for change coming from academic and policy leaders, paltry. Miller makes the conversation more interesting, more lively, and more honest about the limits of the theoretical perspectives mustered thus far to address these issues.'
Bill Maurer, Professor of Anthropology and Law, University of California, Irvine
1 What's Wrong with Consumption? 1
2 A Consumer Society 39
3 Why We Shop 64
4 Why Denim? 90
5 It's the Stupid Economy 108
6 How Not to Save a Planet 139
Number Of Pages: 216
Published: 1st June 2012
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 16.1 x 2.187
Weight (kg): 0.46