Originally published in 1987, Colin Campbell’s classic treatise on the sociology of consumption has become one of the most widely cited texts in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, and the history of ideas. In the thirty years since its publication, The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism has lost none of its impact. If anything, the growing commodification of society, the increased attention to consumer studies and marketing, and the ever-proliferating range of purchasable goods and services have made Campbell’s (...) rereading of Weber more urgent still. As Campbell uncovers how and why a consumer-oriented society emerged from a Europe that once embodied Weber’s Protestant ethic, he delivers a rich theorization of the modern logics and values structuring consumer behavior. This new edition, featuring an extended Introduction from the author and an Afterword from researcher Karin M. Ekström, makes clear how this foundational work aligns with contemporary theory in cultural sociology, while also serving as major influence on consumer studies. (shrink)
In this comprehensive collection of essays, most of which appear for the first time, eminent scholars from many disciplines—philosophy, economics, sociology, political science, demography, theology, history, and social psychology—examine the causes, nature, and consequences of present-day consumption patterns in the United States and throughout the world.
The concept of agency, although central to many sociological debates, has remained frustratingly elusive to pin down. This article is an attempt to open up what has been called the "black box" of personal agency by distinguishing clearly between two contrasting conceptions of the phenomenon. These two conceptions are very apparent in the manner in which the concept is defined in sociological reference works, resembling as it does a similar contrast in the treatment of the concept of power. The two (...) are referred to as type 1 and type 2 or the power of agency as compared with agentic power, the essential contrast being that the first refers to an actor's ability to initiate and maintain a program of action while the second refers to an actor's ability to act independently of the constraining power of social structure. The nature of these two forms of personal agency is then illustrated by referring to material taken from Weber's essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, this essay itself being understood as an argument that focuses on the crucial role played by an increase in the power of agency in ushering in the modern world. Finally, it is argued that these two conceptions of agency possess no given logical relationship with each other, it being perfectly possible for individuals to be possessed of considerable power of agency while lacking agentic power, and vice versa. It is therefore concluded that it is important, in all discussions of human agency, to distinguish clearly between these two forms. (shrink)
Veblen's concept of conspicuous consumption, although widely known and commonly invoked, has rarely been examined critically; the associated "theory" has never been tested. It is suggested that the reason for this lies in the difficulty of determining the criterion that defines the phenomenon, a difficulty that derives from Veblen's failure to integrate two contrasting conceptual formulations. These are, first, an interpretive or subjective version that conceives of conspicuous consumption as action marked by the presence of certain intentions, purposes, or motives, (...) and second, a functionalist formulation in which conspicuous consumption is viewed as a form of behavior characterized by particular end results or outcomes. Consideration of each of these strands reveals major difficulties that prevent the construction of an operational definition of conspicuous consumption and hence the extraction of a workable theory from Veblen's discussion. (shrink)
The tendency to denigrate consumerism derives from the widespread acceptance of sociological theories that represent consumers as prompted by such reprehensible motives as greed, pride, or envy. These theories are largely unsubstantiated and fail to address the distinctive features of modern consumption, such as the apparent insatiability of wants and the preference for the novel over the familiar. A more plausible view of consumerism regards it as an aspect of hedonism, and links consumption to the widespread practice of daydreaming. Seen (...) in this light, one can discern an idealistic dimension to modern consumption. (shrink)
1 Evidence-based policy requires researchers to provide the answers to ecological questions that are of interest to policy makers. To find out what those questions are in the UK, representatives from 28 organizations involved in policy, together with scientists from 10 academic institutions, were asked to generate a list of questions from their organizations. 2 During a 2-day workshop the initial list of 1003 questions generated from consulting at least 654 policy makers and academics was used as a basis for (...) generating a short list of 100 questions of significant policy relevance. Short-listing was decided on the basis of the preferences of the representatives from the policy-led organizations. 3 The areas covered included most major issues of environmental concern in the UK, including agriculture, marine fisheries, climate change, ecosystem function and land management. 4 The most striking outcome was the preference for general questions rather than narrow ones. The reason is that policy is driven by broad issues rather than specific ones. In contrast, scientists are frequently best equipped to answer specific questions. This means that it may be necessary to extract the underpinning specific question before researchers can proceed. 5 Synthesis and applications. Greater communication between policy makers and scientists is required in order to ensure that applied ecologists are dealing with issues in a way that can feed into policy. It is particularly important that applied ecologists emphasize the generic value of their work wherever possible. (shrink)
Democratic countries, such as Australia, face the dilemma of preserving public and national security without sacrificing fundamental freedoms. In the context where the rule of law is an underlying assumption of the constitutional framework, Emergency Powers in Australia provides a succinct analysis of the sorts of emergency which have been experienced in Australia and an evaluation of the legal weapons available to the authorities to cope with these emergencies. It analyses the scope of the defence power to determine the constitutionality (...) of federal legislation to deal with wartime crises and the 'war' on terrorism, the extent of the executive power and its relationship to the prerogative, the deployment of the defence forces in aid of the civil power, the statutory frameworks regulating the responses to civil unrest, and natural disasters. The role of the courts when faced with challenges to the invocation of emergency powers is explained and analysed. (shrink)
El consumo contemporáneo es frecuentemente objeto de críticas por parte de intelectuales, académicos, líderes religiosos y comentaristas diversos. En este trabajo se analizan y examinan cinco de las críticas más comunes, como son: la crítica de la necesidad, la crítica sobre su materialismo, la crítica de la adicción, la crítica del egoísmo, y la crítica sobre su irracionalidad. Se muestra a continuación que todas ellas están desencaminadas o carecen de apoyo empírico. Finalmente, se pone de manifiesto que varias de estas (...) críticas son incompatibles entre sí. (shrink)