Sustainable consumption, consumer culture and the politics of a megatrend

Pierre McDonagh, William Kilbourne, Andrea Prothero

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


In order determine if sustainability is a megatrend, it is necessary to clarify the nature of sustainability and how it fits into the overall area of political and consumer culture. We first examine the character of a megatrend and establish a working definition that is used for the remainder of the chapter. We then arrive at a working definition of sustainability that positions it on a continuum from weak to strong sustainability. While the sustainability question has both production and consumption dimensions, the focus of the chapter is on sustainable consumption within a culture of consumption. We then argue that the political aspects of consumption become prominent under conditions of environmental stress or impending limits to economic growth.
Incorporating the political reveals that, within advanced market societies, the market has achieved supremacy as the means through which sustainability is addressed. We suggest that the New Political Economy (NPE) incorporating a Gramscian perspective provides a framework through which to challenge the assumptions which have led to unsustainable market behavior. The conclusion drawn from this perspective is that sustainability is more than a megatrend as it leads to both systemic and permanent transformation within market societies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe SAGE Handbook of Consumer Culture
EditorsOlga Kravets, Pauline MacLaren, Steven Miles, Alladi Venkatesh
Place of PublicationLondon, U. K.
PublisherSage Publications
ISBN (Print)9781473929517
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2018


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