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Shopping Our Way to Safety: How We Changed from Protecting the Environment to Protecting Ourselves

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Synopses & Reviews

Synopsis:

Many Americans today rightly fear that they are constantly exposed to dangerous toxins in their immediate environment: tap water is contaminated with chemicals; foods contain pesticide residues, hormones, and antibiotics; even the air we breathe, outside and indoors, carries invisible poisons. Yet we have responded not by pushing for governmental regulation, but instead by shopping. What accounts for this swift and dramatic response? And what are its unintended consequences?Andrew Szasz examines this phenomenon in Shopping Our Way to Safety. Within a couple of decades, he reveals, bottled water and water filters, organic food, “green” household cleaners and personal hygiene products, and “natural” bedding and clothing have gone from being marginal, niche commodities to becoming mass consumer items. Szasz sees these fatalistic, individual responses to collective environmental threats as an inverted form of quarantine, aiming to shut the healthy individual in and the threatening world out. Sharply critiquing these products effectiveness as well as the unforeseen political consequences of relying on them to keep us safe from harm, Szasz argues that when consumers believe that they are indeed buying a defense from environmental hazards, they feel less urgency to actually do something to fix them. To achieve real protection, real security, he concludes, we must give up the illusion of individual solutions and together seek substantive reform.

About the Author

Andrew Szasz is professor and chair of the sociology department at the University of California at Santa Cruz and author of the award-winning EcoPopulism (Minnesota, 1994).

Product Details

ISBN:
9780816635092
Author:
Szasz, Andrew
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Consumption (economics)
Subject:
Environmental economics
Subject:
Economics - Macroeconomics
Subject:
Popular Culture - General
Subject:
Consumption (Economics) -- United States.
Subject:
Environmental economics -- United States.
Subject:
Economics - General
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
20090331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.8 in

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Related Subjects

Business » History and Biographies
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

Shopping Our Way to Safety: How We Changed from Protecting the Environment to Protecting Ourselves New Trade Paper
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Product details 336 pages University of Minnesota Press - English 9780816635092 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Many Americans today rightly fear that they are constantly exposed to dangerous toxins in their immediate environment: tap water is contaminated with chemicals; foods contain pesticide residues, hormones, and antibiotics; even the air we breathe, outside and indoors, carries invisible poisons. Yet we have responded not by pushing for governmental regulation, but instead by shopping. What accounts for this swift and dramatic response? And what are its unintended consequences?Andrew Szasz examines this phenomenon in Shopping Our Way to Safety. Within a couple of decades, he reveals, bottled water and water filters, organic food, “green” household cleaners and personal hygiene products, and “natural” bedding and clothing have gone from being marginal, niche commodities to becoming mass consumer items. Szasz sees these fatalistic, individual responses to collective environmental threats as an inverted form of quarantine, aiming to shut the healthy individual in and the threatening world out. Sharply critiquing these products effectiveness as well as the unforeseen political consequences of relying on them to keep us safe from harm, Szasz argues that when consumers believe that they are indeed buying a defense from environmental hazards, they feel less urgency to actually do something to fix them. To achieve real protection, real security, he concludes, we must give up the illusion of individual solutions and together seek substantive reform.
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