Economist and bestselling author Juliet B. Schor of Boston College discusses her book “Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth.” Schor proposes a path to address the Great Recession while addressing climate change and peak oil, suggesting a radical change in how we think about wealth, consumer goods, and how we live.
As we travel along the current path, food, energy, transport and consumer goods are becoming increasingly expensive. The economic downturn that has accompanied the ecological crisis has led to another type of scarcity: incomes, jobs, and credit are also in short supply. Our usual way back to growth, a debt-financed consumer boom, is no longer an option our households, or planet, can afford.
Responding to our current moment, Plenitude puts sustainability at its core. It is an argument that through a major shift to new sources of wealth, green technologies, and different ways of living, individuals and the country as a whole can actually be better off and more economically secure. And as Schor observes, Plenitude is already emerging. In pockets around the country and the world, people are busy creating lifestyles that offer a way out of the work and spend cycle. These pioneers’ lives are scarce in conventional consumer goods and rich in the newly abundant resources of time, information, creativity and community.
Based on recent developments in economic theory, social analysis, and ecological design, as well as evidence from the cutting edge people and places putting these ideas into practice, Plenitude is a road map for the next two decades. In encouraging us to value our gifts, nature, community, intelligence, and time, Schor offers the opportunity to participate in creating a world of wealth and well-being.
About Juliet Schor:
Juliet Schor is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years, in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies. Schor’s latest book is Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (Scribner, September 2004). Born to Buy is both an account of marketing to children from inside the agencies and firms and an assessment of how these activities are affecting children.
Schor is author of the national best-seller, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (Basic Books, 1992) and The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need. The Overworked American appeared on the best seller lists of The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe as well as the annual best books list for The New York Times, Business Week and other publications. The book is widely credited for influencing the national debate on work and family. The Overspent American was also made into a video of the same name, by the Media Education Foundation (September 2003). Schor is also the author of Do Americans Shop Too Much? published by Beacon Press in 2000, co-editor of Consumer Society: A Reader (The New Press 2000) and co-editor of Sustainable Planet: Solutions for the Twenty-first Century (Beacon Press 2002). She is currently working on issues of environmental sustainability and their relation to Americans’ lifestyles.
Schor has served as a consultant to the United Nations, at the World Institute for Development Economics Research, and to the United Nations Development Program. She was a fellow at the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1995-1996 for a project entitled “New Analyses of Consumer Society.” Schor has lectured widely throughout the United States, Europe and Japan to a variety of civic, business, labor and academic groups. She appears frequently on national and international television and radio, and profiles on her have appeared in scores of magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and People magazine.