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The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice$
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Michael Maniates and John M. Meyer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014366

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014366.001.0001

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Consumer Sovereignty, Heroic Sacrifice

Consumer Sovereignty, Heroic Sacrifice

Two Insidious Concepts in an Endlessly Expansionist Economy

Chapter:
(p.145) 7 Consumer Sovereignty, Heroic Sacrifice
Source:
The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice
Author(s):

Thomas Princen

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262014366.003.0057

Two major concepts set the course of the discussion in this chapter: consumer sovereignty and sacrifice in the context of climate change, and environmental sustainability. Consumer sovereignty, a theoretical notion of neoclassical economics, drives business and government leaders to act and decide according to consumers’ needs or preferences and the shape of the marketplace. The chapter argues that consumer sovereignty is a myth convenient for those who hold consumers responsible for social and environmental problems. It further sheds light on sacrifices in a contemporary consumer-driven economy like the United States and distinguishes covert and overt sacrifices and positive and negative sacrifices. It argues that everyday life, including participatory democratic practices, depreciate if sacrifice is denied.

Keywords:   consumer sovereignty, sacrifice, climate change, environmental sustainability, neoclassical economics

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