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Consumption, Class, Critique. Policy Paper 03/2014 by Anne Steckner and Mario Candeias.



Policy Papers


Anne Steckner, Mario Candeias,


July 2014

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In view of the overexploitation of natural resources, the immense generation of waste, and the ongoing destruction of the planet’s ecological foundations the critique of consumerism is in vogue. On all sides there is criticism of the madness of the growth society and mass consumerism. The dominant critique has come from the social conservative and green bourgeois camps. The economist Meinhard Miegel and the social psychologist Harald Welzer, respectively, can be taken as examples. Both capture the contemporary mood. In their arguments we find the elements – cultural-pessimist, neoliberal, and critical of capitalism – that name the problems, address the distress, and capture people’s desires. But they offer a limited understanding of consumption and the satisfaction of needs, because they do not consider class relations and often argue moralistically instead of politically. Consumption, however, is a class issue.