The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 13, Number 1, 2014

ISSN 1602-2297

Experience and Sustainable Consumption

Tove A. Rasmussen
Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Rendsburggade 14, 9000 Aalborg

Abstract: On the basis of sociologist Colin Campbell’s notion of the romantic ethics and emotional sentimentality in modern hedonism, I claim that sustainable consumption may re-enchant ordinary consumption. New layers of meaning are at stake and even altruistic motives come into play; doing something good for someone or something aside from oneself, is a very strong trigger of positive emotions. Very often, however, the actual purchase of goods does not live up to the demands of doing good in the value-based consumption chain, and the individual might end up with a bad conscience, which again is a possible trigger for lingering in a sentimental mode of guilt. Emotions and bad conscience may convince the individual that she really does care for the environment and thereby provide a positive experience of feeling good even if it only takes place in the universe of consumption fantasies. Accordingly the paper argues that this ‘work of the conscience’ may be the modern hedonistic consumer’s way of handling the often reported discrepancy between attitude and actual behaviour in sustainable consumption..

Keywords: Experience, sustainable consumption, modern hedonism, Consumer Culture Theory

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