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For Richer or Poorer in Sickness for Wealth: What Price Consumerism?

Integral Ecology and Sustainable Business

ISBN: 978-1-78714-464-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-463-7

Publication date: 6 September 2017


Affluence and material goods of varying types are portents of a millennium age consumer culture that encourages the masses to voluntarily participate in the need to buy, buy and buy! This trend to spend creates a purchasing fervour that preoccupies many consumers with the ongoing yearning to shop until they drop. Clever marketing tactics such as enticing smells, catchy jingles, prize-draw entries, lucrative sales, discounts and the recruitment of celebrities to advertise a range of different wares are just some of the ploys adopted by vendors and retailers to maintain the sustainability of this cycle of consumer spending. This scenario promotes what could be perceived as a never-ending desire to procure yet more products and merchandise, which can create social dilemmas such as personal debt due to, for example, impulse buying, excessive spending and unnecessary borrowing.

Retailers and manufacturers are driven by a quest to sell so constantly tout their goods to tempt consumers including those with a need for personal and social respect, to take the bait in order to encourage them to keep buying. This, coupled with the rapid advances in technology over recent decades, has made it easier for consumers to shop, order, obtain and pay for their goods from the comfort of an armchair or via handheld devices, and all at a tap of a button. In essence, technology has added to, or even exacerbated, the materialistic consumer trend as witnessed across many global societies today – from the east and the west to the north and the south. But what impact does consumerism have on the well-being of humankind and, in turn, the environment? This chapter adopts a comparative approach to answer this question by exploring the implications of consumerism as a means for broadening the topic’s framework and to contribute to debates regarding consumerism, well-being, social dilemma, sustainability and techno-economics.



Wilson, D. (2017), "For Richer or Poorer in Sickness for Wealth: What Price Consumerism?", Integral Ecology and Sustainable Business (Contributions to Conflict Management, Peace Economics and Development, Vol. 26), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 169-180.



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