The Overspent American

Upscaling, Downshifting, and the New Consumer

The Overspent American

Targets consumerism as the root of many Americans' material dissatisfaction, showing how modest goals for getting ahead have turned into unrealistic lifestyles

The Changing Consumer

Markets and Meanings

The Changing Consumer

In a world undergoing rapid change, this essential collection discusses why consumption has become so important, and what role, if any, it plays in underpinning social, economic and political transformation.

Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture

Crime, Exclusion and the New Culture of Narcissm

Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture

This book offers the first in-depth investigation into the relationship between today's criminal identities and consumer culture. Using unique data taken from criminals locked in areas of permanent recession, the book aims to uncover feelings and attitudes towards a variety of criminal activities, investigating the incorporation of hearts and minds into consumer culture's surrogate social world and highlighting the relationship between the lived identities of active criminals and the socio-economic climate of instability and anxiety that permeates post-industrial Britain. This book will be of interest to undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and lecturers in all fields within the social sciences, but especially criminology, sociology, social policy, politics and anthropology.

Enchanting a Disenchanted World

Continuity and Change in the Cathedrals of Consumption

Enchanting a Disenchanted World

The only book to connect the everyday world of the 20-something undergraduate consumer with sound sociological analysis of the world of consumption Enchanting a Disenchanted World, Third Edition examines Disney, malls, cruise lines, Las Vegas, the world wide web, Planet Hollywood, credit cards, and all the other ways we now consume. Thoroughly updated to reflect the recent economic recession and the impact of the internet, bestselling author George Ritzer continues to explore this book’s central thesis: that our society has undergone fundamental change because of the way and the level at which we consume. This Third Edition demonstrates how we have created new "cathedrals" of consumption (places that enchant us so as to entice us to stay longer and consume more) while continuing to take capitalism to a new level. These places of consumption, whether in our homes, the mall, or cyberspace, are in a constant state of "enchanting the disenchanted," luring us through new spectacles because their rational qualities are both necessary and deadening at the same time. New and Hallmark Features Offers a unique analysis of the world of consumption, especially the settings in which consumption takes place Discusses the recent global economic recession throughout Offers rich details on consuming in such places as Las Vegas, Disney World, on cruise ships, in Wal-Mart, at McDonald’s, and, new to this edition, on the Web Includes a wide range of theoretical perspectives—Marxian, Weberian, critical theory, postmodern theory—as well as a number of concepts such as hyperconsumption, implosion, simulation, and time and space to show students how sociological theory can be applied to everyday phenomena

Striving and Surviving

A Daily Life Analysis of Honduran Transnational Families

Striving and Surviving

Drawing on data the author gathered in Honduras and the United States from weekly time diaries, in-depth interviews, participant observation and interpretive focus groups, she looks specifically at the experience and prospects of transmigrant labor in the United States; the aspirations and consumption practices of transnational family members in the United States and Honduras, especially as the relate to the American Dream; and she explores the ways in which families negotiate caretaking responsibilities, both financial and emotional, while striving and surviving in a transnational space. This is the first daily life study of undocumented immigrants and the first transnational analysis of Honduran families.

The Consumer Society Reader

The Consumer Society Reader

The Consumer Society Reader features a range of key works on the nature and evolution of consumer society. Included here is much-discussed work by leading critics such as Jean Baudrillard, Susan Bordo, Dick Hebdige, bell hooks, and Janice Radway. Also included is a full range of classics, such as Frankfurt School writers Adorno and Horkheimer on the Culture Industry; Thorstein Veblen's oft-cited writings on "conspicuous consumption"; Betty Friedan on the housewife's central role in consumer society; John Kenneth Galbraith's influential analysis of the "affluent society"; and Pierre Bourdieu on the notion of "taste." "Consumer society--the 'air we breathe,' as George Orwell has described it--disappears during economic downtruns and political crises. It becomes visible again when prosperity seems secure, cultural transformation is too rapid, or enviornmental disasters occur. Such is the time in which we now find ourselves. As the roads clog with gas-guzzling SUVs and McMansions proliferate in the suburbs, the nation is once again asking fundamental questions about lifestyle. Has 'luxury fever,' to use Robert Frank's phrase, gotten out of hand? Are we really comfortable with the 'Brand Is Me' mentality? Have we gone too far in pursuit of the almighty dollar, to the detriment of our families, communities, and natural enviornment? Even politicians, ordinarily impermeable to questions about consumerism, are voicing doubts... [and] polls suggest majorities of Americans feel the country has become too materialistic, too focused on getting and spending, and increasingly removed from long-standing non-materialist values." —From the introduction by Douglas B. Holt and Juliet B. Schor

The Paradox of Generosity

Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose

The Paradox of Generosity

Determining why, when, and to whom people feel compelled to be generous affords invaluable insight into positive and problematic ways of life. Organ donation, volunteering, and the funding of charities can all be illuminated by sociological and psychological perspectives on how American adults conceive of and demonstrate generosity. Focusing not only on financial giving but on the many diverse forms generosity can take, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson show the deep impact-usually good, sometimes destructive-that giving has on individuals. The Paradox of Generosity is the first study to make use of the cutting-edge empirical data collected in Smith's groundbreaking, multidisciplinary, five-year Science of Generosity Initiative. It draws on an extensive survey of 2,000 Americans, more than sixty in-depth interviews with individuals across twelve states, and analysis of over 1,000 photographs and other visual materials. This wealth of evidence reveals a consistent link between demonstrating generosity and leading a better life: more generous people are happier, suffer fewer illnesses and injuries, live with a greater sense of purpose, and experience less depression. Smith and Davidson also show, however, that to achieve a better life a person must practice generosity regularly-random acts of kindness are not enough. Offering a wide range of vividly illustrative case studies, this volume will be a crucial resource for anyone seeking to understand the true impact and meaning of generosity.

Politics and Society in the Developing World

Politics and Society in the Developing World

In a world seemingly surfing a wave of unprecedented affluence, it is sobering to be reminded that only thirty out of nearly two hundred countries can really be classified as advanced industrialized countries. Eighty per cent of the world's population lives in the developing world. This popular, concise introduction scrutinises the developing world, its varied political institutions and the key social, economic and environmental issues at the heart of contemporary debates. Wide-ranging and clearly written, Politics and Society in the Developing World begins by providing a brisk survey of the major theoretical and methodological interpretations of the social impact of development. It then details the factors which determine the parameters of the developing world before moving on to examine its infrastructure and the crises currently facing it. The book also covers the social and economic contexts of developing societies, the international arena and its impact on the developing world, state-building and the tension between dictatorship and democratization. The book focuses on four policy areas: aid, trade, tourism and the environment.

Working Time

International Trends, Theory and Policy Perspectives

Working Time

Working time is a crucial issue for both research and public policy. This book presents the first comprehensive analysis of both paid and unpaid work time, integrating a unique discussion of overwork, underwork, shortening of the working week, and flexible work practices. Time at work is affected by a complex web of evolving culture and social relations, as well as market, technological, and macroeconomic forces, and institutions such as collective bargaining and government policy. Using a variety of new data sources, the authors review the latest trends on working time in numerous countries.

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption offers a timely overview of how our understanding of consumption in history has changed in the last generation.