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Impatient Accumulation, Immediate Consumption

Problems with Money and Hope in Central Kenya

Peter Lockwood

lack the money to experience them. Raha is a sign of a life well lived, and to simulate it is to simulate a life that is not one's own, since money is the facilitator of such conspicuous and enjoyable consumption. This article describes the style of

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Catherine Butler, Karen Anne Parkhill, Fiona Shirani, Karen Henwood, and Nick Pidgeon

It is widely recognized that a major challenge in low carbon transitioning is the reduction of energy consumption. This implies a significant level of transformation in our ways of living, meaning the challenge is one that runs deep into the fabric of our personal lives. In this article we combine biographical research approaches with concepts from Bourdieu's practice theory to develop understanding of processes of change that embed particular patterns of energy consumption. Through an analysis of “case biographies” we show the value of biographical methods for understanding the dynamics of energy demand.

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Andrea Brandolini

Between 2007 and 2013, real per capita income and net wealth of Italian households fell by 13 and 10 percent, respectively. Unprecedented in the country's post-war record by size and duration, this deterioration of household finances was accompanied by more muted changes in inequality and relative poverty. Only absolute measures of consumption and income insufficiency surged. The more serious worsening of personal economic conditions for the young than for adults and, especially, the elderly is a disturbing legacy of the recessions of 2008–2009 and 2011–2013.

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Tourist versus Traveler Revisited

Back to the Eighteenth Century

Giuli Liebman Parrinello

Although a great deal has been written about the constantly debated relationship between tourist and traveler (tourism and travel) with often quite different ideological approaches being adopted, nevertheless consensus still seems to be a distant reality. In this article, the reasons for this apparent theoretical impasse are explored by tracing its historical origins. Most scholars agree that tourism as a modern phenomenon appeared on the horizon of Western European society in the second half of the eighteenth century, thereby allowing a broad historical and dualistic conceptualization of tourism, which added to its dynamic characteristic (travel) a notion of temporary sojourn including leisure (villeggiatura, spas, etc.). The background of an articulated Enlightenment revealed not only a new anthropological curiosity about the Other, but also features like conspicuous consumption and eudaemonism, which played and continue to exert a fundamental role in the tourism of yesterday and today. Furthermore, the emerging dialectic between the new social actor (the tourist) and the movement (tourism) can currently be read as a substantial and dramatic “figuration“ (Elias 1978a), encompassing unforeseen consequences within the framework of communication.

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Jason Hickel

Participation in development projects in the Global South has become one of the most sought-after activities among American and British high school graduates and college students. In the United States this often takes the form of Alternative Spring Break trips, while in Britain students typically pursue development work during their 'gap years'. Development projects offer students a way to craft themselves in an alternative mould, to have a 'real experience' that marks them off from the cultural mainstream as 'authentic' individuals. The student development craze represents an impulse to resist consumerist individualism, but this impulse has been appropriated and neutralised by a new logic of consumption, transforming a profoundly political urge for change into a form of 'resistance' compatible with neoliberal capitalism. In the end, students' pursuit of self-realisation through development has a profoundly depoliticising effect, shifting their attention away from substantive problems of extraction and exploitation to the state of the inner self.

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Ana Horta, Harold Wilhite, Luísa Schmidt, and Françoise Bartiaux

Energy consumption inconspicuously bridges nature and culture. Modern societies and cultures depend on intensive energy use from the extraction of natural resources. In fact, the industrialization process required large amounts of energy, but main sources such as oil and coal, have been gradually depleted and found to be heavily polluting the environment. Despite their environmental impacts, these resources have provided cheap and abundant power to fuel technological progress and economic growth. (See Agustoni and Maretti [2012] for a good historical summary of the relations between energy production and usages.)

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Luísa Schmidt, Ana Horta, Augusta Correia, and Susana Fonseca

In a time of economic crisis the need to adopt energy conservation practices comes to the fore. It is helpful to evaluate the role of young people as both consumers and potential agents of change bridging the gap between school and family to encourage lower household energy consumption. Based on two surveys of parents and students of a secondary school in Lisbon, plus in-depth interviews with parents, this article analyzes the complexity of this challenge, highlighting adults' perceptions of their children's contribution to energy saving. Results show that parents see young people as major energy consumers. Young people's engagement with electronic equipment as essential components of their lifestyles and their belief in technology as a solution to energy problems thwart them from being promoters of energy saving. In this context of scarcity, parents try to protect their children's well-being and opportunities in life by accepting their children's unrestricted energy use.

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Mariano González-Delgado and Manuel Ferraz-Lorenzo

This article explains the approach to mass consumption developed in social studies textbooks in the early years of the transition to democracy in Spain. It begins by examining the way in which school textbooks represented consumer society and mass media in the late 1970s. This is followed by an in-depth explanation of the reasons that led the authors of these textbooks to choose one theoretical framework over another. Above all, this article emphasizes the complexity and variety of the historical materials used to represent consumer society, and how this process of social construction is reflected in the textbook content of the time.

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Elizabeth Mittman

In the following article, I sketch two major pressures driving this film's peculiar recuperation of traditional representations of femininity alongside the rhetoric of equal rights. The first is the development of a Cold War politics of consumption, which, as recent research has shown, was crucial for national and cultural identity formation in the period of reconstruction after World War II. If, in the 20th century, political citizenship was "recast as consumer behavior," the postwar context of divided Germany offers a particularly powerful example of the complex imbrications of ideological and material cultures. As Ina Merkel's work amply illustrates, the competitive discourse of East versus West shaped GDR consumer culture from the outset. In addition, the implicit tension between the austere ideal of a new socialist producer nation and its population's unbroken, modern drive toward consumption appears to be at least superficially resolved along gender lines. Following prewar cultural formations, consumers were gendered as female, in contrast with male-identified producers. Thus, women could be mobilized as symbolic warriors along the battlefront between two economic systems. Frauenschicksale refers us repeatedly to the precise terms of this conflict.

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Françoise Bartiaux and Luis Reátegui Salmón

Based on empirical data on “green” practices according to household size, this article questions the role, if any, given to close personal relationships by social practice theories in sustaining or not daily life practices. Data are mainly drawn from an Internet survey conducted in Belgium in 2006 by WWF-Belgium on daily practices, related to food, energy consumption, mobility, and tourism. Results show that smaller households carry out more numerous “green” practices than larger ones. The concluding discussion underlines the relevance of including social interactions—namely within the household—into the conceptual framework derived from the social theories of practices, to take into account the rearticulating role of social interactions and domestic power claims when carrying out a practice or a set of practices, and when changing it.