Consumerism and the Crisis: Wither “the American Dream"

Ivanova, Maria N. 2011. Consumerism and the Crisis: Wither “the American Dream". Critical Sociology, 37(3), pp. 329-350. ISSN 0896-9205 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Starting with an inquiry into the socio-material foundations of American-style consumer capitalism as it emerged under Fordism and evolved under neoliberalism, this article seeks to outline the origins of the present economic crisis and the possible implications for the future of consumerism. The article argues that the ongoing crisis in the USA is not a regular cyclical downturn but signifies the end of finance-driven consumer capitalism as an accumulation regime whose key features can be summed up as debt-financed mass consumption of largely offshore produced goods and ‘wealth creation’ through rapidly appreciating asset values. The crisis qualifies as systemic in that various disproportionalities of the capitalist mode of production have resurfaced at the same time. While debt-driven consumer capitalism seems damaged to the extent of being no longer operable, the contours of a ‘post-consumerist’ future are not yet in sight.

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7 February 2011["eprint_fieldopt_dates_date_type_shown" not defined]

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Date Deposited:

25 Oct 2013 08:30

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 10:45

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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