chapter  12
11 Pages

Parents as consumers

ByLORNA DAVIES

The word ‘consumer’ is broadly used to describe the users of goods and services generated within an economy. The more we consume, the more rapid the rate of economic growth, which within our current mainstream worldview is held as economic success. Consumer choice has been heralded as holding the potential to improve our lives and drive economies. The word ‘consumer’ is derived from the Latin word ‘consumere’, which means to burn up, destroy and devour, but for the last 100 years or so the word has become synonomous with ‘pleasure, enjoyment and freedom’ (Goldsmith 1996: 118). Consumerism rests on the assumption that the economy will continue to grow. But progressively more economists, as well as ecologists, are beginning to recognize that unharnessed growth is not compatible with finite resources. It has been reported that we have used more goods and services since 1950 than in all the rest of human history (Worldwatch Institute 2008). Increasingly, critics are asking the question ‘how much more can the earth take in supporting the drive for more and more?’ A question that has been asked by ecopsychologists (a discipline that brings together psychology and ecology) is, does con - sumerism make us happy? It has been argued that there can be too much choice of consumer products, which can lead to artificially raised expectation, stress and confusion. (Norwood 2006; Irons and Hepburn 2007; Schwartz 2006).