The consumer self

Growth fetishism is mirrored in the individual. Just as a nation's sense of itself has become bound up with how it grows, so our individual sense of self has become bound up with how we consume. The transformation of consumption from a means of meeting needs into a way of acquiring an identity has been underway for some decades, but shifted into a new and more intense phase from the early 1990s.1 Although much more recent and not yet fully understood, the consumer revolution may prove to have restructured our consciousness as much as the Industrial Revolution. I will argue in this chapter that the shift from a production society to a consumption society makes the task of persuading citizens of affluent countries to change their behaviour in response to the climate crisis more intractable because of the psychological meaning of the consumption process. The shift has been reflected in a change in the nature of firms and a change in the nature of the consumer.

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