May 17, 2010
We are living in a new ecological and economic reality. Humans are using this planet’s resources faster than we are regenerating them. Eco-systems are shutting down, turning oceans into dead zones and farmland into desert. As a result, food, energy, and transport are becoming increasingly expensive. The current recession has led to another type of scarcity: incomes, jobs, and credit are also in short supply. As economist and bestselling author Juliet Schor persuasively argues in her eye-opening, urgent new book, PLENITUDE: The New Economics of True Wealth (The Penguin Press; May 17, 2010; $25.95), the old way out of an economic downturn―a debt-financed consumer boom―is no longer a viable option.
Suggesting a radical shift in how we think about consumer goods, value, and ways to live, PLENITUDE is a necessary primer for transitioning toward a sustainable economy as well as a richer, more balanced life. Though Schor stresses making environmentally sound choices, she has not written a polemic on sacrifice: rather she contends that through new sources of wealth, green technologies, and different lifestyles, individuals and the country as a whole can actually be better off and more economically secure.
PLENITUDE relies on recent developments in economic theory, social analysis, and ecological design to reveal how innovation, macroeconomic balance, and a new attention to multiple sources of wealth (such as time, creativity, and community) can lead to a healthier environment and higher quality of life. As Schor observes, plenitude is already emerging. Schor introduces us to individuals and communities who have created lifestyles that offer a way out of the work-and-spend cycle. Urban farmers, do-it-yourself renovators, craigslist users—all are spreading their risk and establishing novel sources of income and outlets for procuring consumer goods. Taken together, these trends represent a movement away from the conventional market and offer a way toward an efficient, rewarding life in an era of high prices and traditional-resource scarcity.
Fascinating and mobilizing, PLENITUDE is both a ground-breaking intellectual statement about the economics and sociology of ecological decline and a road map for achieving real prosperity.
About the Author:
Juliet B. Schor’s research has focused on the economics of work, spending, environment, and the consumer culture. She is the author of Born to Buy, The Overworked American, and The Overspent American. Schor is a professor of sociology at Boston College, a former member of the Harvard economics department, and a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. She is also a cofounder of the Center for a New American Dream, an organization devoted to ecologically and socially sustainable lifestyles.
by Juliet B. Schor
Publication Date: May 17, 2010
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