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Consumer Society

Consumer Society
Critical Issues & Environmental Consequences

March 2010 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
What factors are contributing to the continuing growth in consumption of goods and services? At what point do the costs associated with consumerism begin to call our way of life into question? How are the problems of resource depletion, waste and pollution, and environmental impact being addressed? What is to be done about the consequences of our all-consuming way of life?


Ever-increasing consumption and a relentless pursuit of growth in output are the twin pillars on which the modern economy and contemporary social life rest. But the consumer way of life is globally unsustainable. We can't all live the consumer dream.


This comprehensive, lively and informative book will quickly be recognized as a benchmark in the field. It brings together a huge set of resources for thinking about the development of consumer culture, its defining features, and global consequences.


Adept in handling a complex range of classical and contemporary theoretical sources, the book draws on an impressive range of comparative material and provides a variety of contemporary examples to inform and enhance understanding of our consuming way of life. Smart writes with verve and feeling and has produced a stimulating book that enlarges our understanding of consumer culture and provides a timely critical analysis of its consequences.


Clear, engaging, and original this book will be essential reading for all those interested in and concerned about our global culture of consumption including researchers and students in sociology, politics, cultural studies, economics, and social geography.

Consuming: Historical and Conceptual Issues
Consumer Choice: Rhetoric and Reality
Cultivating Consumers: Advertising, Marketing and Branding
Designing Obsolescence, Promoting Consumer Demand
Globalization and Modern Consumer Culture
Consequences of Consumerism
An Unsustainable All-Consuming World
Consuming Futures I: Business as Usual
Consuming Futures II: 'Green' and Sustainable Alternatives

The cultural contradictions of modern capitalism have never been deeper or more dramatic. These contradictions are also confusing. While governments tell citizens to spend in order to save capitalism, economists tell us that western consumers spend too much and Chinese workers, too little. Barry Smart's engaging contribution offers clear insights into the economic mysteries of modern consumption and production, providing in tandem an historical sociology of the rise of America as a consumer society - this is a timely sociological guide to the perplexed
Bryan S. Turner
The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Barry Smart's Consumer society is the best study I have seen of contemporary features of the current stage of capitalism organized around consumption and commodities. The book's range is broad and synoptic and its research is highly impressive. The text is engaging and accessible and should be of interest to a wide range of readers
Douglas Kellner
UCLA, author of Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy

Very good resource for beginners and advanced students alike. Definitely an essential resource for my future courses in this field of studies.

Dr Meik Nowak
IEE, Ruhr-University Bochum
April 19, 2021

This is an excellent book and useful supplementary resource, and may be ordered in Fall 2016 as such, but a geography text on consumption is preferable. So I am waiting on the Mansvelt and Jayne text. The 2005 Mansvelt text was not quite suitable for Fall 2014.

Dr Kimberley B Naqvi
Geography, Thompson Rivers Univ
September 15, 2015

Great text to compliment diverse reading list. Unique perspective with good theoretical underpinning. Accessible for students and pitched at the right level. Good text.

Mr David Cockayne
Dept of Transport and Logistics, Huddersfield University
March 27, 2014

Excellent resource for understanding consumer society. However has little in terms of focus to the health and social care discipline. I have recommended this for dissertation students that wish to discuss elements of consumer society.

Mr Lewis Simpson
Department of Health & Social Studies, Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education
December 3, 2013

Stimulating and informative.

Mr David Ness
Social Science, Moray College UHI
October 23, 2013

A well ordered, clearly written and accessible text that will give my undergraduate students a good introduction to the relationship between consumption norms and environmental stress, and the socio-economic impact of a global market place.

Ms Anna Hawkins
Urban Studies , Sheffield Hallam University
October 1, 2013

I really liked this book. It covers some interesting aspects related to consumption, advertising, and markets, but it was more about environmental issues and less about issues of inequality, which made it a poor fit for my course on social stratification.

Professor Michelle Maroto
Sociology, Univ of Alberta
September 27, 2013

Broad ranging and insightful. Clearly presented with a wide range of comparative material.

Mr David Ness
Social Science, Moray College UHI
February 22, 2013

An excellent and interesting book but not directly relevant to the programme that we run. However, I would recommend it to those students who choose to focus on the environmental/sustainability issues within outdoor education.

Mr Graham Harvey
School of sport, health and outdoor education, University of Wales, Trinity St David
January 9, 2012

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Chapter Two

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781847870506
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