Radical Simplicity and the Middle-Class: Exploring the Lifestyle Implications of a 'Great Disruption'

Simplicity Institute Report, 2012

17 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2012  

Samuel Alexander

University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs; Simplicity Institute

Date Written: September 27, 2012

Abstract

How would the ordinary middle-class consumer – I should say middle-class citizen – deal with a lifestyle of radical simplicity? By radical simplicity I essentially mean a very low but biophysically sufficient material standard of living, a form of life that will be described in more detail below. In this essay I want to suggest that radical simplicity would not be as bad as it might first seem, provided we were ready for it and wisely negotiated its arrival, both as individuals and as communities. Indeed, I am tempted to suggest that radical simplicity is exactly what consumer cultures need to shake themselves awake from their comfortable slumber; that radical simplicity would be in our own, immediate, self-interests. In this essay, however, I will only defend the more modest thesis that radical simplicity simply would not be that bad. Establishing that thesis should be challenging enough. In order to frame the present analysis I pose a ‘collapse scenario,’ with the aim of understanding what might become of middle-class consumer lifestyles in the event of what Paul Gilding (2011) calls a ‘Great Disruption.’

Keywords: radical simplicity, voluntary simplicity, sufficiency, degrowth, economic contraction, consumerism

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Samuel, Radical Simplicity and the Middle-Class: Exploring the Lifestyle Implications of a 'Great Disruption' (September 27, 2012). Simplicity Institute Report, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2153343 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2153343

Samuel Alexander (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs ( email )

185 Pelham Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053
Melbourne, Victoria 3010
Australia

Simplicity Institute

Australia

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