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Consumerism and Sustainability

The Social Impact of Local Energy Developments: Our research on Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay

SLED tidal lagoon (artist's impression)

The tidal power scheme proposed for Swansea Bay (Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay) has been in the news today due to the government’s announcement that it is discussing subsidising the ambitious £1bn project.  Questions are being raised in the media about the levels of subsidy on offer and the potential impact on household fuel bills, and about whether the government’s willingness to back the project is intended to distract attention from its attempts to reinvigorate the North Sea oil industry.  However, what is missing from the current debate is what the impact of this project on local people might be.  Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, Consumerism and Sustainability, News, SLED.

Towards a typology of community resilience activities

The idea that we need to develop resilience to a range of environmental, economic, political and security crises seems to have increasing purchase across academic disciplines and in policy and practice.  In particular, there has been a developing interest in the concept of community resilience, which refers to a capacity within social groups to adapt to and recover from crisis “without flipping into another state or phase “(Cote & Nightingale 2012: 475).  This might include, for example, coping with flooding; transport/infrastructure damage; terrorist attack; economic downturn and financial crisis; demographic change; climate change; and/or political upheaval (e.g. see OECD 2009; Young Foundation 2012; Stockholm Resilience Centre 2013).  However, there is considerable variation in the ways the metaphor of resilience is interpreted and employed, and amongst definitions of the characteristics of resilient communities. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, Consumerism and Sustainability, Globalization, Risk and Uncertainty, SLED.

Some notes on Zygmunt Bauman’s lecture, ‘What makes a hero?’

poznanThose more familiar with Zygmunt Bauman’s work may have recognised Wednesday’s lecture at the Howard Assembly Room as a very slight variation on a theme developed in the second chapter of Liquid Life (2005), entitled ‘From Martyr to Hero, and From Hero to Celebrity’. This should probably not come as too much of a surprise. As Bauman (2012: 3) has recently confessed, “a new topic for scrutiny … is no longer on my cards.” However, this in no way denigrates the content of the lecture itself, which provided an opportunity for both new readers of Bauman, and those who have been reading his work for many years, to hear him lecture on a topic which seldom makes its way into the critical commentaries: heroism. In fact, due to Bauman’s immense output (over thirty books since his retirement in 1990, and even more articles and interviews), even for those long-term readers it must no doubt have been refreshing to be reminded of aspects of his thought that had either been entirely forgotten, or quite simply passed over. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Blog, Consumerism and Sustainability, Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory, News and tagged , , , .

All that is solid melts into air?

Having been the inspiration for www.zopa.com, Liquid Modernity can now claim a new offspring –  www.abundancegeneration.com

Abundance hopes to disrupt the conventions of money and financial services which deliberately alienate and disorientate the individual by allowing ordinary people to earn cash by investing directly in renewable energy production.  The minimum investment is £5 which makes it the first truly accessible retail investment product authorised by the FSA in more than a decade.

Democratic finance won’t be stopping there, once we have proven the model with wind and solar farms, we will be enlisting truly public money in the financing of other forms of big society or good society (depending on your political persuasion/ glossary) including schools, hospitals, etc.

Launch is planned to be very soon – proof that the problem with money is not that the system is ‘broken’ and anti-social, just that people need to take back control and bring money back into the social domain.

This entry was posted in Consumerism and Sustainability, Ethics and Soci(ologic)al Theory, News.

Shared Social Responsibilities, Brussels, 28 Feb – 1 Mar 2011

Seminar – Conference 2011 
Shared Social Responsibility
Securing trust and sustainable social cohesion
in a context of transition

28 February – 1 March
Brussels, European Commission

The Council of Europe – in partnership with the European Commission – is organising this conference on 28 February and 1 March 2011. The event is open to public authorities, researchers, NGOs, civil society, academics, policy makers, etc., and its aim is to give a thoroughly European focus to our reflection on the question of responsibilities in forging the future of our designs for democracy, social justice, poverty alleviation, sustainability and communal living.

A “European Charter on shared social responsibilities” is currently being drawn up and will be discussed before its final version during the first working day.

The conference will deal primarily with the following topics:
• the transformations in Europe: social cohesion and shared responsibility, key factors in creating vision and rebuilding confidence in the future;
• the need for a concept of shared social responsibility: prospects and obstacles;
• mobilising citizens and stake-holders through and for shared responsibilities;
• the challenges to placing shared responsibility at the heart of the political agenda
• organising ourselves to achieve the objective of well-being for all.

At the conference, Mark Davis will present a paper during Workshop 1A that focuses specifically upon the concept of shared social responsibility in the context of crisis.

Click here for further information on the Bauman Institute’s role in this project.

Click here for further information on the conference itself, including a full programme and details on how to register.

This entry was posted in Consumerism and Sustainability, Events, Renewing Politics and Civil Society.

Life consumed or a time for consumption?

My interest in consumption/consumer society focuses primarily on later life. With governments around the world raising the retirement age and trying to extend “the working life” social divisions are increasingly apparent between those who can retire early and those who cannot. For the Sir Fred’ s (RBS) of this world it will be a time for consumption – starting at 54 with £750,000 per annum! – but for those in lowest 20% income bracket consumption will be constrained.

Indeed Sir Fred’s working life will be about 32 years but he can expect to live for another 30 (at least) in retirement. For anyone who left school at 15 in 1969 they can expect to work for another 10 years – a working life of 50 years. But life itself is “consumed” and life expectancy relates to social class.

In this context “the new poor” (Bauman 1998) look very similar to the poor of previous generations to me – perhaps we should look more closely at the new rich who may be more “liquid” etc? Sometimes in order to help those who are drowning we need to look upstream to check no one is pushing them into the torrent.

This entry was posted in Blog, Consumerism and Sustainability and tagged .

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