Anti-consumerism has become a conspicuous part of contemporary activism and popular culture, from ‘culture jams’ and actions against Esso and Starbucks, through the downshifting and voluntary simplicity movements, the rise of ethical consumption and organic and the high profile of films and books like Supersize Me! and No Logo. A rising awareness of labor conditions in overseas plants, the environmental impact of intensified consumer lifestyles and the effects of neo-liberal privatization have all stimulated such popular cultural opposition. However, the subject of anti-consumerism has received relatively little theoretical attention – particularly from cultural studies, which is surprising given the discipline’s historical investments in extending radical politics and exploring the complexities of consumer desire.
This book considers how the expanding resources of contemporary cultural theory might be drawn upon to understand anti-consumerist identifications and practices; how railing against the social and cultural effects of consumerism has a complex past as well as present; and it pays attention to the interplays between the different movements of anti-consumerism and the particular modes of consumer culture in which they exist. In addition, as well as ‘using’ cultural studies to analyse anti-consumerism, it also asks how such anti-consumerist practices and discourse challenges some of the presumptions and positions currently held in cultural studies.
This book was previously published as a special issue of Cultural Studies.