Social Opulence and Private Restraint: The Consumer in British Socialist Thought Since 1800

Hardcover | September 6, 2015

byNoel Thompson

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Social Opulence and Private Restraint is a study of the place of the consumer and consumption in the political economy of British socialism, from its early-nineteenth-century origins, through "New Times" Marxism, to the consumer-focused New Labourism and political economies critical ofconsumerism that can be found in the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first-century Left. Noel Thompson identifies and explicates recurrent themes which cross the boundaries of the conventional periodisation of the history of British socialist thought; themes which illustrate the sustained nature ofthe multifaceted ideological challenge presented by the accommodation of the consumer within socialist political economy. This challenge necessitates an engagement with the character and priorities of a future socialist society. As such it touches on some of the key issues which socialists have confronted in pursuit of their vision of a good society: issues with a strong contemporary relevance such as the desirabilityof private as against social opulence; the relationship between consumption and happiness; the need to educate and/or to liberate desire; and, in particular, the environmental and social consequences of rising levels of consumer expectation and consumption. The study also throws light on how thedisparate ways in which these issues were addressed reflected and shaped the socialist political economies that emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, while also engendering tensions between them.

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Social Opulence and Private Restraint is a study of the place of the consumer and consumption in the political economy of British socialism, from its early-nineteenth-century origins, through "New Times" Marxism, to the consumer-focused New Labourism and political economies critical ofconsumerism that can be found in the late-twentieth...

Noel Thompson graduated from St. Andrews University in 1974, and pursued a Masters degree in Economic and Political Thought at Queen's University Belfast, before undertaking research leading to the award of a doctorate by the University of Cambridge. He was appointed to a lectureship in Swansea University in 1979, was awarded a persona...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.8 inPublished:September 6, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199646015

ISBN - 13:9780199646012

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. On the cusp of abundance, socialist political economy, the consumer and consumption, 1800-502. Socialist political economy and the growth of mass consumption, 1880-19143. `Punished by the attainment of their desires': Social democratic conceptions of consumption and the consumer in inter-war Britain4. Conceptualising the consumer in an age of affluence, 1950-19705. Social democracy and the apotheosis of the consumer, 1970-20106. Gathering the fragments: critiquing the new consumerism, 1970-20107. Retrospect and ProspectBibliography