Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth

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9781594202544: Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth
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At a moment of ecological and financial crisis, bestselling author and economist Juliet B. Schor presents a revolutionary strategy for transitioning toward a richer, more balanced life.

In Plenitude economist and bestselling author Juliet B. Schor offers a groundbreaking intellectual statement about the economics and sociology of ecological decline, suggesting a radical change in how we think about consumer goods, value, and ways to live.

Humans are degrading the planet far faster than they are regenerating it. As we travel along this shutdown path, food, energy, transport, and consumer goods are becoming increasingly expensive. The economic downturn that has accompanied the ecological crisis has led to another type of scarcity: incomes, jobs, and credit are also in short supply. Our usual way back to growth-a debt-financed consumer boom- is no longer an option our households, or planet, can afford.

Responding to our current moment, Plenitude puts sustainability at its core, but it is not a paradigm of sacrifice. Instead, it's an argument that through a major shift to new sources of wealth, green technologies, and different ways of living, individuals and the country as a whole can actually be better off and more economically secure. And as Schor observes, Plenitude is already emerging. In pockets around the country and the world, people are busy creating lifestyles that offer a way out of the work and spend cycle. These pioneers' lives are scarce in conventional consumer goods and rich in the newly abundant resources of time, information, creativity, and community. 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.

Based on recent developments in economic theory, social analysis, and ecological design as well as evidence from the cutting-edge people and places putting these ideas into practice, Plenitude is a road map for the next two decades. In encouraging us to value our gifts- nature, community, intelligence, and time-Schor offers the opportunity to participate in creating a world of wealth and well-being.

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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.

From Publishers Weekly:

Schor (Born to Buy) introduces her concept of plenitude as a way forward after the recent shattering of global capitalism and continued rise in CO2 emissions. Plentitude is a commitment to enjoying—not exploiting—nature's richness, to envisioning environmental, economic, and psychological health as braided and capable of growing symbiotically and more securely than the business as usual practices that imploded in 2008. Schor pleads for avoiding planetary ecocide: even though the polar ice caps are shrinking and 38% of the 45,000 species studied by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are under threat of extinction, the West—particularly Americans—continue to create waste and gobble up resources at unsustainable rates (in 2006, the U.S. emission of CO2 was 19.7 metric tons per capita, compared to 1.3 in India). Fortunately, the interest in alternative energy, recycling, and clean nanotechnologies is increasing, and Schor encourages readers to match it by breaking out of a work hard/spend hard cycle, thereby improving both the environment and quality of life. It might be utopian, but it's also fresh, persuasive, and passionately argued, speaking to the individual and the collective. (May)
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