Friday, 2 April 2010

Rising above the cloud of consumerism

I'm currently reading "Co-opportunity" by John Grant. It's a great book and something of a departure for John, in that it's far, far more than a marketing book. At the moment I'm trying to get my head round the alternatives to a GDP/growth-based economy.

A little bit more in my own comfort zone is the chapter about consumerism. In this, John dons an uncharacteristically negative-tinted pair of spectacles to paint a picture of consumerism as a kind of "infantilising of society". The promise of consumerism is that we will never go without, the "fantasy of cornucopia". People adopt a passive mode of behaviour, like cuckoo chicks clamouring for more and more - and then flying into fits of rage on the rare occasions when they "don't get".

This certainly rings bells with me and some of the projects I have worked on. And for all their missions and visions that promise to "improve people's lives", a lot of consumer companies are stuck in the same profit hamster wheel that demands that they sell more stuff to more people.

What I like about John's books is that he always offers an alternative view, a fresh perspective. So here are his thoughts about human needs that companies and organisations might look to answering that let us rise above the cloud of consumerism:
Reconnecting with nature
Community
Lifelong learning
Play
Social production, craft
Citizenship
Generativity

Right. I am going unplugged for a while now to pursue one or two of those myself.

2 comments:

Caros Taschen said...

I imagine you sitting at a top of a hill after some hours of skiing, knitting a pullover which you'll wear during your next presentation talking about the future of consumerism.

I have to sew on...

Sue said...

Something like that...