GLOBAL CONSUMER CULTURE


Why do Americans waste so much food and energy?

Is a single global consumer culture covering the world?

What is really causing Global Warming?

What can we do to reduce Environmentally Harmful Consumption?


I will add links to this site as I find them. Right now a good starting place is a paper I have written for the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences committee on global environmental change, which defines some of the key issues. ("Emulation and Global Consumerism." in Environmentally Significant Consumption. Committee on Human Dimensions of Global Change, National Research Council. National Academy Press. Washington, DC. Pp. 110-115.)

Here are some links to other resources on global consumer culture and global environmental issues:

      The International Society for Marketing and Development is a loose collection of academics in marketing and other related fields, many in developing countries. They have excellent annual meetings, much more international than most consumer-research groups.

      The Association for Consumer Research is an organization of academics and marketers, who hold annual meetings in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Their website has excellent resources for finding out what kinds of research is currently being done on consumption issues around the world.

      Guliz Ger at the University of Bilkent in Turkey has begun a Center for Research in Transitional Societies, which takes global consumer culture as a central topic.

      The Center for a New American Dream is devoted to teaching wasteful North Americans to think about the environmental consequences of consumption, and promote frugal lifestyles.

      Don Slater, whose excellent book "Consumer Culture and Modernity" is reviewed elsewhereon this site, also has a useful and informative web resource called the Consumer Culture Research Site. Superb bibliography, course outlines, and interesting selection of links.

      Center for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology( CREST), 1200 18th St NW, 9th floor, Washington, DC 20036. Phone: 202-530-2231 Fax: 202-887-0497. They produce educational and engineering interactive multimedia software and maintain the Solstice Internet site to foster sustainable energy and resource development. Primary areas of expertise are energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies and green building technologies.

      One of the most interesting sources of consumer information on the United States in general is American Demographics. They have a great website at http://www.marketingtools.com/. I recommend it highly.

      Wonder whatever happened to the Marxist critique of commodity capitalism? Its on the web at a site called THE COMMODITY FETISH TIMES, which includes a lot of impassioned marxist rants, and links to other sites on the "Commie Ring."

      A link to a newsletter called "Use Less Stuff," advised by archaeologist Bill Rathje, includes a lot of practical tips about ways to cut down your waste stream. cygnus-group.com/ULS/About_ULS.html They have just published a new book called "use less stuff."

      This website on living lightly has similar advice. http://www.scn.org/earth/lightly/karvsacp.htm

      Frugal Corner is a comprehensive list of anti-consumer and 'live lightly' web links, and includes a lot of practical information on cutting waste.

      The Media Foundation publishes Adbuster's magazine. Their website is interesting, graphic, and comprehensive. Concentrates (to an extreme) on the role of the media, especially TV, in promoting consumerism and suppressing alternatives. They sposnor "Buy Nothing Day" and other forms of protest.

      Voluntary Simplicity Study Groups and Circles are a growing trend in the USA. This excellent site has a directory of groups, as well as tutorials on how to run your own circle, and links to good resources.

      The Context Institute is a nonprofit research organization, "exploring and clarifying just what is involved in a humane sustainable culture - and how we can get there." Emphasis on philosophy, ethics, and values, with a number of papers on global issues. Depends heavily on ideas of spirituality and community activism, light on data.

      Allen Hammond's book "Which World" discusses possible global futures, including a good deal of discussion of the growth of consumer culture. Good futurist projections, in an excellent website based on the content of the book. Some useful teaching resources here, though not a font of optimism.

      The book Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism by Richard H. Robbins is one of the best introductions to global issues I have seen. It has an associated website with lost of excellent academic and activist links, extensive extracts of the book, and a generally balanced discussion of major issues including consumerism.

      The project on Environmentally Significant Consumption, funded by the European Science Foundation, has held two wonderful conferences at the University of Lancaster in the UK, organized by Elisabeth Shove. All the papers and proceedings, including a paper by Wilk, is available on-line at http://www.lancs.ac.uk/users/scistud/esf/title.htm

      Sheffield Hallam University has established a Centre for Sustainable Consumption. The website is limited, but gives instructions for getting more information. They are doing some research on appliances and some survey work in Britain.

      An excellent new site on the cross-cultural study of food habits has recently appeared, assembled by Robert Dirks at Illinois State University. Extraordinarily good bibliography.

      One interesting place is Corporate Watch, which tracks global capitalism from the perspective that transnational corporations are the villains. Kind of like the point of view in Korten's "When Corporations Rule the World." A lot of their information comes from "The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization" (Sierra Club Books, 1997). http://www.corpwatch.org/trac/feature/index.html. In the same vein we have the Multinational Monitor at http://www.essential.org/monitor/monitor.html.

      Dominique Bouchet, professor of Marketing at Odense University in Denmark, has a useful site on his work on consumption at http://www.busieco.ou.dk/~dom/priv/cvdom.htm.

      Peoplink is an organization that tries to create new person-to-person links in the global economy by using the internet to connect poor artisans in developing countries with buyers in the prosperous north. Their website is http: www.peoplink.org.

PEOPLink
Internet for Global Trade
and Democracy

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Last update: Tuesday, July 30, 2002.
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