CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition


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Current debate

Why does it feel so good to consume?

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Entitled ‘Why is it so good to consume?’ the latest issue of Revue Projet explores how our consumption habits reflect a quest to be as much as to have and urges us to find new, sustainable behaviours.

Trente Glorieuses: The post-war ‘Trente Glorieuses’ saw a revolution in everyday life in France, as people developed a new relationship to belongings. However, increasing comfort, emancipation and modernity were not proof of converging ways of life, writes economic historian Jean-Claude Daumas. On the contrary, the social hierarchy remained unchanged. Analysing subsequent debates, Daumas concludes that even critique of consumer society was more reformist than radical, ‘focused on rectifying flaws rather than total rejection’.

Abandoning consumerism: Economist Bernard Perret explores how mass consumption poses ‘not only ecological but also often overlooked social threats’ – particularly an individualism characterized by the aspiration to ‘not depend on anyone for the satisfaction of our needs’. Perret suggests considering ‘a new culture of relation to material objects’, in which objects are seen as elements of a system that integrates the environment and society: ‘It is necessary to adopt a more responsible relationship both with ecosystems and social systems, as well as to implement technical, organizational and social changes.’

Donation and recognition: In interview, sociologist Alain Caillé argues that mass consumption is linked to the ‘increasing battle for recognition, itself linked to a fragilization of identities’. The system of ‘donation and counter-donation’, a defining feature of mass consumption, must be replaced by other, non-lucrative ways for people to be recognized – for instance different ‘prosocial activities that strengthen social ties’.

Source: The Eurozine Review, “The maelstrom of events”

Created in 1907 by the Jesuits, Revue Projet is an accessible and rigorous forum for debate between scholars, community activists, and those seeking meaning in life. It addresses the concerns of the most vulnerable, the planet, the vitality of the democratic system, and economic and social stability. Read more...
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