Item description for The Romantic Ethic And The Spirit Of Modern Consumerism by Colin Campbell...
The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism was first piblished by Basil Blackwell of Oxford in 1987. Editions have appeared in Italian, Portuguese, Slovenian and Chinese but no copies have been available in English since 1998. This Alcuin Academic edition has been published to fill this gap and meet the needs of those academics and students who have contacted me in search of an English-language version of the book. I have appended to this edition a list of my publicatrions on consumption that have appeared since 1987. I have considered writing a revised edition which critics as well as friends have suggested is long overdue. This is a task that I do intend to undertake in the near future; and hopefully in time fore the twentieth anniversary of the book's publication.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Jun 1, 2005
ISBN 1904623336 ISBN13 9781904623335
Availability 0 units.
More About Colin Campbell
Colin Campbell is University Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University, Washington.
Graham Wilson is Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Colin Campbell currently resides in Ancaster, Ontario. Colin Campbell was born in 1943.
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Imaginative Hedonism: The Interior Driver of Consumerism Sep 22, 2008
This important book aspires to complement Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Specifically, just as Weber provided an historical account for the rise of "instrumental rationality" that drives the sphere of production, Campbell offers an historical account of the rise of "imaginative hedonism" that drives modern consumption.
His central theme is that pleasure itself was redefined in the 18th century. In former times, it was sought through the senses: food, sex, music, laughter. Thus, elites had banquets, harems, musicians, and clowns while the masses had carnivals, their annual taste of the same. The modern economy, according to Campbell, replaced the sensory experience of the body with the emotional experience of the imagination - daydreams of finer lifestyles, novel consumer goods, exotic experiences et al. Centrally important, these images are created or modified by the individual for self-consumption. In other words, it is not the buying, owning or consuming but the imagining - "the ability to create an illusion known to be false but felt to be true" - that pleasures us. Moderns became adept at what Campbell calls "autonomous imaginative hedonism" long before there was media or advertising; it's not our wants but our wanting that is insatiable.
The book is organized in two parts. The first half is critical and dissects the inadequacies of economic explanations of wants and their origins in terms of increasing population, increasing standards of living and other macro trends and of sociological explanations that rely on emulation effects. The second half is historical. Like Weber Campbell anchors his account in the Calvinist strain of 17th century Protestantism but the legacy that he follows leads to the 18th century pietistic cults of sensibility and melancholy, then on to Sentimentalism (sensibility + Christian benevolence), culminating in 19th century Romanticism and finally democratizing as bohemianism in the early 20th century.
Densely argued and quite long, this is not an easy read. Moreover, those who prefer their historical explanations anchored in a society's organization of power and wealth will not likely be convinced by a history of ideas based sermons, novels and philosophy. Finally, the scope is limited largely to Great Britain with some attention to France and Germany.
Those weaknesses pale when compared with this volume's three important contributions. First, the argument makes room for the pursuit of pleasure along side the pursuit of wealth in understanding the evolution of modern society. Similarly, it makes room for emotion along side reason in that evolution. Second, it explains why we embrace rather than reject an everyday life diffused by the shimmers of advertising. Finally, it puts the consumer as the active and creative force at the center of consumerism.