The consumer self

1 This is spelled out in more detail in Clive Hamilton, 'Consumerism, self-creation and prospects for a new ecological consciousness', Journal of Cleaner Production (forthcoming, 2010).

2 See Martin Lindstrom, Brand Sense, Free Press, New York, 2005; Naomi Klein, No Logo, HarperCollins, London, 2001; Clive Hamilton, Growth Fetish, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2003 and Pluto Press, London, 2004.

3 Robert Frank, Luxury Fever: Money and happiness in an era of excess, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1999.

4 Ulrich Beck, Democracy without Enemies, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1998; Ulrich Beck and E. Beck-Gernsheim, Individualization: Institutionalized Individualism and its Social and Political Consequences, Sage, London, 2002.

5 Zygmund Bauman, Consuming Life, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2007; Russell Belk, 'Are We What We Own?', in April Lane Benson (ed.), I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive buying and the search for self, Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland, 2004.

6 Helga Dittmar, 'The costs of the consumer culture and the "cage within"', Psychological Inquiry, vol. 18, no. 1, 2007.

7 Anon., 'Global house price boom: The greatest bubble in history', Economist, 19 June 2005.

8 Robert Samuelson, 'Homes As Hummers', Washington Post, 13 July 2005.

9 For Britain see Clive Hamilton, Overconsumption in Britain: A culture of middle-class complaint?, Discussion Paper No. 57, The Australia Institute, Canberra, 2003. For Australia see Clive Hamilton, Overconsumption in Australia: The rise of the middle-class battler, Discussion Paper No. 49, The Australia Institute, Canberra, 2002.

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11 5268603-1.html.

12 For Australia see Hamilton, Overconsumption in Australia, and for Britain see Hamilton, Overconsumption in Britain.

13 Josh Fear, Stuff happens: Unused things cluttering up our homes, Research Paper No. 52, The Australia Institute, Canberra, 2008.

14 Marcus Walker, 'Behind Slow Growth in Europe: Citizens' Tight Grip on Wallets, A Thicket of Laws to Protect People Damps Spending', Wall Street Journal, 10 December 2004, p. A1.

15 Catherine Rampell, 'Shift From Spending To Saving May Be Slump's Lasting Impact', New York Times, 10 May 2009.

16 Although this does not include compulsory savings due to superannuation.

17 Rampell, 'Shift From Spending To Saving'.

18 hampel.pdf; DebtDisposF03E0D.pdf.

19 Bill Hampel (Chief Economist, Credit Union National Association), 'Overview of Household Debt Exposure', FTC Debt Collection Workshop, 10 October 2007 debtcollection/presentations/hampel.pdf. Among the wealthiest 10 per cent of the population the share of income was 43 per cent while the share of debt was 32 per cent.

20 Anon., 'Will you still love your new iPhone next month?', Business Wire, 9 September 2008.

21 This section is based on Clive Hamilton, Richard Denniss and David Baker, Wasteful Consumption in Australia, Discussion Paper No. 77, The Australia Institute, Canberra, 2007. Figures are in Australian dollars. In 2009 an Australian dollar was worth approximately 80 US cents and 50 British pence.

22 James Garvey, 'Environmental morality in the present', New Statesman online, 10 January 2008.


24 Paul Kellstedt, Sammy Zahran and Arnold Vedlitz, 'Personal Efficacy, the Information Environment, and Attitudes Towards

Global Warming and Climate Change in the United States', Risk Analysis, vol. 28, no. 1, 2008. On the other hand, the study is vitiated by the fact that the extent to which respondents were knowledgeable about global warming was based on 'self-reported informedness' when other studies have shown that there is virtually no correlation between how informed people believe themselves to be and how informed they actually are. The 'best informed' may be the most ignorant, which is certainly the case with climate sceptics.

25 Michael Maniates, 'Individualization: Plant a Tree, Buy a Bike, Save the World?', in T. Princen, M. Maniates and K. Conca (eds), Confronting Consumption, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2002, p. 57.


27 Quoted by Per Gyberg and Jenny Palm, 'Influencing households' energy behaviour—how is this done and on what premises?', Energy Policy, vol. 37, 2009, p. 2810. The statement is on E.ON's Swedish website.

28 Maniates, 'Individualization: Plant a Tree'.

29 Mark Sagoff, Price, Principle, and the Environment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004, Chapter 4.

30 Gyberg and Palm, 'Influencing households' energy behaviour'.

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33 htm.


35 See also Fred Pearce, 'Greenwash: E.ON's "integrated" technology claim is shameless spin', Guardian, 9 April 2009.

36 See, for example, American Coal Council, 'Coal—Environmentally Sound',

37 David Roberts, 'The Essential "Clean Coal" Scam: Politico lets shill get away with the basic dodge at the center of the "clean coal" campaign', Grist, 23 December 2008.

38 David Roberts, 'The Essential "Clean Coal" Scam'.

39 Sheldon Rampton, 'The Clean Coal Bait and Switch', PR Watch, 27 December 2008.

40 Jad Mouawad, 'Lessons on How to Guzzle Less, from Europe and Japan', New York Times, 5 April 2009.

41 Anon., 'GM exec stands by calling global warming a "crock"', Reuters, 22 February 2008.

42 Robert Siegel, 'At Auto Show, GM Seeks To Shift Perceptions', All Things Considered, National Public Radio, 12 January 2009.

43 Veronica Dagher, 'Extreme Measures: So, you think you've cut your spending? Here are some ideas you probably haven't thought of', Wall Street Journal, 7 April 2009, p. R3.

44 Survey commissioned by the Center for a New American Dream,

45 John Maynard Keynes, 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren', in Essays in Persuasion, W.W. Norton, New York, 1963, p. 362.

46 Adriana Barbaro and Jeremy Earp (writers and directors), Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood, DVD produced by the Media Education Foundation, products/134/presskit_134.pdf.

47 Barbaro and Earp, Consuming Kids.

48 See C. Hamilton and R. Denniss, Affluenza, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2005, p. 53.

49 Quoted in Hamilton and Denniss, Affluenza, p. 53. Juliet Schor writes that in preparing her book, Born to Buy (Scribner, 2004), she found marketers feeling 'immense guilt and ambivalence about using their skills to target kids with inappropriate messages, questionable products, and insidious techniques'.

50 Richard Monastersky, 'A Burden Beyond Bearing', Nature, vol. 458, 30 April 2009, p. 1094.

51 Dabo Guan, Klaus Hubacek, Christopher Weber, Glen Peters and David Reiner, 'The drivers of Chinese CO2 emissions from 1980 to 2030', Global Environmental Change, vol. 18, 2008, pp. 626-34.

52 Ross Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2008, p. 66.

53 Guan et al., 'The drivers of Chinese CO2 emissions from 1980 to

54 Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review, Table 3.2, p. 65.

55 Christopher Weber, Glen Peters, Dabo Guan and Klaus Hubacek, 'The contribution of Chinese exports to climate change', Energy Policy, vol. 36, 2008, pp. 3572-7.

56 Guan et al., 'The drivers of Chinese CO2 emissions from 1980 to 2030'. 2

57 Guan et al., 'The drivers of Chinese CO2 emissions from 1980 to

58 Xin Zhao and Russell Belk, 'Politicizing Consumer Culture: Advertising's Appropriation of Political Ideology in China's Social Transition', Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 35, August 2008.

59 Tu Weiming, 'The Continuity of Being: Chinese Visions of Nature', in Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Berthrong (eds), Confucianism and Ecology, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1998. Weiming writes (p. 113): '. . . the notion of humanity as forming one body with the universe has been so widely accepted by the Chinese, in popular as well as elite culture, that it can very well be characterized as a general Chinese worldview . . . [H]uman life is part of the continuous flow of the blood and breath that constitutes the cosmic process. Human beings are thus organically connected with rocks, trees, and animals.'

60 The next few paragraphs draw heavily on the excellent study by Elisabeth Croll, 'Conjuring goods, identities and cultures', in Kevin Latham, Stuart Thompson and Jakob Klein (eds), Consuming

China: Approaches to cultural change in contemporary China, Routledge, London, 2006.

61 John Quelch, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, quoted by Sean Silverthorne, 'China, Consumerism, and the Red Pepsi Can', BNet, Harvard Business School, 12 August 2008.

62 Croll, 'Conjuring goods, identities and cultures', p. 24.

63 Paul Solman, 'China's Vast Consumer Class', Public Broadcasting Service (US), 5 October 2005.

64 Croll, 'Conjuring goods, identities and cultures', p. 26 (slightly modified).

65 Quoted by Ariana Eunjung Cha, 'Chinese Consumers Eager to Excel at the American Pastime', Washington Post, 15 November 2008.

66 Solman, 'China's Vast Consumer Class'.

67 Edmund L. Andrews, 'Snow Urges Consumerism on China Trip', New York Times, 14 October 2005.

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