Economics at your fingertips  

Consuming Values and Contested Cultures: A Critical Analysis of the UK Strategy for Sustainable Consumption and Production

Gill Seyfang

Review of Social Economy, 2004, vol. 62, issue 3, 323-338

Abstract: The term “sustainable consumption” is subject to many interpretations, from Agenda 21's hopeful assertion that governments should encourage less materialistic lifestyles based on new definitions of “wealth” and “prosperity”, to the view prevalent in international policy discourse that green and ethical consumerism will be sufficient to transform markets to produce continual and “clean” economic growth. These different perspectives are examined using a conceptual framework derived from Cultural Theory, to illustrate their fundamentally competing beliefs about the nature of the environment and society, and the meanings attached to consumption. Cultural Theory argues that societies should develop pluralistic policies to include all perspectives. Using this framework, the paper examines the UK strategy for sustainable consumption, and identifies a number of failings in current policy. These are that the UK strategy is strongly biased towards individualistic, market-based and neo-liberal policies, so it can only respond to a small part of the problem of unsustainable consumption. Policy recommendations include measures to strengthen the input from competing cultures, to realize the potential for more collective, egalitarian and significantly less materialistic consumption patterns.

Keywords: consumption; Cultural Theory; sustainable development; green consumerism; economic growth; institutions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2004
References: View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (9) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) (text/html)
Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from

DOI: 10.1080/0034676042000253936

Access Statistics for this article

Review of Social Economy is currently edited by Wilfred Dolfsma and John Davis

More articles in Review of Social Economy from Taylor & Francis Journals
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Chris Longhurst ().

Page updated 2020-09-04
Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:62:y:2004:i:3:p:323-338