A Critical Introduction
Edited by Tania Lewis, Emily Potter
Routledge – 2011 – 284 pages
A not-so-quiet revolution seems to be occurring in wealthy capitalist societies - supermarkets selling ‘guilt free’ Fairtrade products; lifestyle TV gurus exhorting us to eat less, buy local and go green; neighbourhood action groups bent on ‘swopping not shopping’. And this is happening not at the margins of society but at its heart, in the shopping centres and homes of ordinary people. Today we are seeing a mainstreaming of ethical concerns around consumption that reflects an increasing anxiety with - and accompanying sense of responsibility for - the risks and excesses of contemporary lifestyles in the ‘global north’.
This collection of essays provides a range of critical tools for understanding the turn towards responsible or conscience consumption and, in the process, interrogates the notion that we can shop our way to a more ethical, sustainable future. Written by leading international scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds - and drawing upon examples from across the globe - Ethical Consumption makes a major contribution to the still fledgling field of ethical consumption studies. This collection is a must-read for anyone interested in the relationship between consumer culture and contemporary social life.
'Edited by Lewis (RMIT Univ., Australia) and Potter (Deakin Univ., Australia), this collection of essays is replete with critical analyses of a wide range of ethically salient issues such as global food production and distribution; fair trade and the commodification of poverty; commodity fetishism camouflaged as local, natural, and traditional consumption; ethically branded bottled water; green renovation; slow living; and more. These topics are brilliantly dissected by experts in human geography, cultural and media studies, and ethnography….Simple solutions are not to be found, but valuable case studies of collaboration across geographical distance and disciplinary affiliations reveal the possibilities of innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems. Summing Up: Recommended.'
-S. A. Mason, Concordia University in Choice, September 2011
Preface by Mike Featherstone Part 1: Introduction 1. Introducing Ethical Consumption Tania Lewis and Emily Potter Part 2: Politics 2. What's Wrong with Ethical Consumption? Jo Littler 3. The Simple and the Good: Ethical Consumption as Anti-Consumerism Kim Humphery 4. Fair Trade in Cyberspace: The Commodification of Poverty and the Marketing of Crafts on the Internet Tim Scrase 5. Neo-liberalism, the 'Obesity Epidemic' and the Challenge to Theory Michael Gard Part 3: Commodities and Materiality 6. Placing Alternative Consumption: Commodity Fetishism in Borough Fine Foods Market, London Benjamin Coles and Philip Crang 7. Feeding the World: Towards a Messy Ethics of Eating Elspeth Probyn 8. Drinking to Live: The Work of Ethically-Branded Bottled Water Emily Potter 9. Ethical Consumption, Sustainable Production, and Wine Paul Starr 10. Eco-ethical Electronic Consumption in the 'Smart-design' Economy Richard Maxwell and Toby Miller 11. The Ethics of Second Hand Consumption Adrian Franklin 12. Is Green the New Black? Exploring Ethical Fashion Consumption Chris Gibson and Elyse Stanes Part 4: Practices, Sites and Representatives 13. Slow Living and the Temporalities of Sustainable Consumption Wendy Parkins and Geoff Craig 14. Ethical Consumption Begins at Home: Green Renovations, Eco-Homes and Sustainable Home Improvement Fiona Allon 15. Cultivating Citizen-subjects Through Collective Praxis: Organized Gardening Projects in Australia and Philippines Kersty Hobson and Ann Hill 16. Lifestyle Television: Gardening and the Good Life Frances Bonner 17. 'Caring at a Distance': The Ambiguity and Negotiations of Ethical Investment Cathy Greenfield and Peter Williams 18. The Moral Terrains of Ecotourism and the Ethics of Consumption Robert Mechior Figuera and Gordon Waitt
Tania Lewis is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Media and Communications at RMIT University, Melbourne. She is the author of Smart Living: Lifestyle Media and Popular Expertise (Peter Lang, 2008) and editor of TV Transformations: Revealing the Makeover Show (Routledge, 2008). She is currently conducting research on sustainable lifestyles and green citizenship, and is a chief investigator on an Australian Research Council-funded project (2010-2013) examining the role of lifestyle advice television in shaping social identity and consumer-citizenship in Asia.
Emily Potter is a Research Fellow in the School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University. She is co-editor of Fresh Water: New perspectives on water in Australia (Melbourne University Press, 2007), and has published widely on questions of culture and the environment.