The Voluntary Simplicity Movement: Reimagining the Good Life Beyond Consumer Culture
18 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 8, 2011
Voluntary simplicity - otherwise known as ‘downshifting’ or just ‘simple living’ – is an anti- consumerist way of life that opposes the high consumption lifestyles prevalent in consumer societies today and voluntarily embraces ‘a simpler life’ of reduced consumption. As a practical matter, this living strategy characteristically involves providing for material needs as simply and directly as possible, minimizing expenditure on consumergoods and services, and generally seeking non-materialistic sources of satisfaction and meaning. Variously defended by its advocates on personal, social, human- itarian, and ecological grounds, voluntary simplicity is predicated on the assumption that human beings can live meaningful, free, happy, and infinitely diverse lives, while consuming no more than an equitable share of nature. That, at least, is the challenging ideal which seems to motive and guide many of its advocates and practitioners. This paper examines the nature of the Voluntary Simplicity Movement, including its various definitions, justifications, and practices.
Keywords: voluntary simplicity, downshifting, simple living, the simple life, consumerism, consumer culture, consumer society
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