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Photograph: John Henderson

Reading List November 30, 2016

Citizen Consumer

Can shopping ever be an ethical practice?

After 9/11, George W. Bush told Americans to go shopping for their country. Each year on Black Friday, consumerism reaches fever pitch. As holiday spending reaches record highs, we revisit the politics of shopping. Do we shop too much? Can consumerism ever be an ethical practice? And what about the conditions of workers in the Global South who make our latest technology and luxury goods?

  • Paul Bloom, The Lure of Luxury
    Why do we own things we do not need? What is the value of a luxury object with little utilitarian value? Paul Bloom, Shamus Khan, Nicholas A. Christakis, Virginia Postrel, and others question the value of luxury.
  • Richard M. Locke, Can Global Brands Create Just Supply Chains?
    In this forum, Richard M. Locke, Tim Bartley, Jodi L. Short, Aseem Prakash, Pamela Passman, and others debate whether private efforts to improve global working conditions have failed.
  • Dara O’Rourke, Citizen Consumer
    As we move toward more sustainable production practices, the larger promise of ethical consumption remains unmet: to empower consumers to express their values in the marketplace. Dara O’Rourke, Scott Nova, Margaret Levi, and others explore the possibilities and limits of ethical consumption.
  • Juliet B. Schor, The New Politics of Consumption
    In contemporary American life, consumerism is as authentic as it gets. But are we in desperate need for a new politics of consumption? Juliet B. Schor, James Twitchell, Clair Brown, and others debate the ethics of shopping.

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