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Dollars Making Sense: Understanding Nature in Capitalism

James G. Carrier

Keywords: capitalism; environment; ethical consumption; Jamaica; legibility

Abstract

This article addresses the relationship between enterprises in capitalist systems and people's understandings of activities concerning the environment. Two sorts activities are described, those intended to alleviate hunger and those intended to protect the environment. Both illustrate how the routine operation of those enterprises affects the ways that people perceive the world and problems in it, and how people are likely to evaluate activities that can address those problems. Such effects come about because normal commercial pressures make it likely that enterprises will present the surroundings and the problems that concern them in ways that stress certain aspects of and processes in the world, while slighting others. The result of those presentations is a simplified rendering of the surroundings that tends to encourage certain sorts of orientation and action rather than others. The relationship between these renderings and those orientations and actions is not, however, straightforward, and this article concludes with a consideration of the sorts of processes that can shape that relationship.

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