chapter
18 Pages

Introduction: The problem with consumerism

ByRobert Crocker

The allied victory in the Second World War and the rise of America as a global power ensured that, after the war, the model of democratic 'economic consumerism' became the dominant strategy of Western governments and a means of distinguishing the West from the Communist East. Encouraged by rapid technological change, economic globalization, unprecedented population growth, massive urbanization, and a global 24-hour mass media, since the early 1980s consumerism has become the most visible universal cultural expression of economic life. Likened to an economic perpetual motion machine, it was thought that growth based on consumption, and enabled by cheap energy and the application of technology, would benefit all. The rise in the volume of consumption per person over the last 30 years not only creates more waste and takes up more time, but also consumes more energy and resources. A familiar example of strong community relationship between consumption, deception and waste can be seen in our present coffee culture.