Consumer Culture, Sustainability and a New Vision of Consumer Sovereignty

European Society for Rural Sociology. Sociologia Ruralis, Vol 55, Number 4, October 2015

Roberta Sassatelli, 2015

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Summary :

The article considers sustainable consumption and alternative food networks in the context of global consumer capitalism as a locus where a new form of consumer sovereignty can be developed. It offers a theoretical overview aimed at charting the emergence and consolidation of a relational, responsible vision of consumer sovereignty. Potentially alternative to neo-classical and neoliberal views, such a vision of consumers and their power involves both sustainability, equality and democracy, and private happiness, conceived as a form of responsibility for personal, creative well-being and fulfillment as opposed to acquisition and spending power. Ultimately the article offers a reappraisal of the economistic notion of utility of goods, and proposes a way forward for alternative ways of consuming and of thinking of consumption which aim at avoiding the mere reproduction of charity and at involving individuals’ subjectivity working on their capacities to develop new pleasures in sustainable lifestyles.