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4 Examining the Driving Forces INTRODUCTION Any informed effort to address the environmental impacts of con- sumption must begin with an understanding of what causes, or drives, environmentally important consumption activities. Economics has made major contributions to understanding consumption by considering prices, budgetary constraints on choice, the costs of information about alterna- tive actions, the ability to externalize costs, and so forth. It has also emphasized the fact that consumption and production are elements of a dynamic system in which all the elements respond together to external events, so that the environmental impacts of consumption are intimately tied to those of production. These economic insights are essential for understanding the dynamics of consumption. Understanding environmentally significant consumption also re- quires the use of concepts not normally included in economic analyses. For example, economics normally treats preferences as exogenous to analyses, presuming that during the time frame of interest, preferences are constant. This assumption may not be reasonable when the analysis concerns human responses to long-delayed environmental changes such as in climate or the ozone layer, because the responses may occur over a period of several decades. In conducting such analyses, it is important to examine the possibility of change in preferences for at least two reasons. One is that preferences often change on time scales of a human generation or longer: it has been argued, for instance, that cohorts raised in an 73
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74 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION environment of affluence have different values and personal and policy preferences from cohorts raised with scarcity (Inglehart, 1990~. Another reason to treat preferences as endogenous in environmental research is that information about impending environmental threats may be the sort of stimulus that causes people to reconsider their preferences. Thus, for studies of consumption and the environment, it may be important to consider processes such as preference construction and cultural change that may mediate the effects of standard economic variables. This chapter presents five brief reports from the workshop that exam- ine driving forces of consumption other than those usually addressed in economic analyses or that consider the relationships between economic forces and other factors. As in Chapter 3, the reports raise some intrigu- ing questions for research and, through their bibliographies, direct read- ers to broader related literatures. Loren Lutzenhiser's research examines residential energy use in northern California. The analysis includes several physical and economic explanatory variables typically used in this field, such as climate, dwell- ing size and type, appliance ownership, and household size and income. It also includes some factors not usually included in energy analysis, such as race, ethnicity, and cultural assimilation among relatively recent immi- grant populations. Lutzenhiser finds that after taking climate, housing characteristics, household technology, and income into account, Hispanic and Asian households use less energy than whites, that African-Ameri- cans use more, and that the immigrant populations studied move toward the white American pattern as a function of acculturation, reflected by the language spoken in the household. The findings help address the ques- tion of how adoption of an American lifestyle alters household energy use and, through it, affects the environment. They suggest that immigrants may adopt patterns of energy use that are typically American over a generation or two. The report by Thomas Dietz and Eugene Rosa uses a multivariate analytic approach to examine the effects of two driving forces on an indi- cator of environmental impact and reveal variations that can be attributed to other forces. They analyze national-level data on carbon dioxide emis- sions and estimate the effects of levels of population and affluence. They find a nearly linear effect of population and an effect of affluence (GNP per capita) that reaches a maximum at about U.S. $10,000 and then begins to decline. When the effects of population and affluence are estimated by regression, the residual variations cover more than a 20-fold range, prob- ably attributable to national differences in technology, institutions, and other factors. Further study of the residual variation is one approach to clarifying the importance of driving forces other than population size and economic activity.
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES 75 Eugene Rosa's analysis distinguishes measures of gross economic ac- tivity from other indicators of material well-being, analyzes the relation- ships among these other measures, and considers how they relate to an indicator of environmental change. He identifies four distinct composite indicators of nonfinancial material well-being and finds that all the afflu- ent economies studied continued to change montonically on these indica- tors through 1985, even though in some of them the oil-market events of the 1970s altered the direction of the trend in carbon emissions per capita. He concludes that the transitions in these countries reflect a shift to more service-based, postmodern economies, in which both gross domestic product and nonmonetary indicators of welfare became less tightly coupled to carbon emissions during that period. Rosa suggests that fur- ther reductions in resource consumption can be made with only limited impacts on welfare. Richard Wilk's report considers the hypothesis that Western styles of consumption have global environmental effects because people in devel- oping countries emulate this consumption. Some scholars have inferred that exposure to Western cultural influence, through such media as ex- ported films and television programs, drives consumption patterns in developing countries where per capita income is increasing. Such emula- tion matters for environmental policy because if increasingly affluent populations in developing countries mimic affluent Western lifestyles, there would be very serious global environmental impacts. If they adopt less resource-intensive and polluting styles of affluence, however, there might be great environmental benefits. Wilk identifies several indicators of emulation, notes their serious limitations to date, and presents his ten- tative reading of the data: that Western-style consumption is not a single package that consumers everywhere accept but, rather, that people of increased means in developing countries may pursue a variety of con- sumption aspirations and lifestyles. Despite Western mass media pen- etration of developing countries, Wilk finds only weak evidence that American middle-class consumer aspirations have been uniformly ac- cepted. The question of whether there is emulation of the most environ- mentally damaging types of Western-style consumption has barely begun to be examined. The report by Willett Kempton and Christopher Payne considers major social transformations in human history and prehistory as influ- ences on both consumption (of energy and materials) and quality of life. They suggest that in the sweep of human history, increases in consump- tion have been driven by grand transformations of social structures but that these transformations, at least on some indicators such as health and leisure time, have not been associated with monotonic increases in quality of life. This analysis raises the question of whether forms of social organi
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76 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION cation might be adopted that provide an acceptable quality of life at much lower levels of materials and energy consumption than now exist in the industrialized world. These five reports suggest some of the possibilities for investigating the effects of social and cultural phenomena on environmentally relevant consumption, either independently of standard economic variables or in interaction with them. There are, of course, many other such investiga- tions that could be conducted. In Chapter 5, we discuss some strategies for setting priorities among the vast range of possible research questions linking consumption and the environment. REFERENCE Inglehart, R. lsso Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society. Princeton, N.J. Press. Princeton University
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES 77 SOCIAL STRUCTURE, CULTURE, AND TECHNOLOGY: MODELING THE DRIVING FORCES OF HOUSEHOLD ENERGY CONSUMPTION Loren Lutzenhiser This paper reviews some alternative conceptions of household en- ergy consumption and uses an analysis of patterns of energy use in a California sample to demonstrate the joint influence of social status, eth- nicity, and material culture in the structuring of energy flows. These findings suggest that conventional models of consumption obscure the workings of sociotechnical systems, seriously limiting our ability to un- derstand the dynamics of energy consumption. Implications for scientific research and policy modeling, cross-cultural analysis, and environmental justice are also considered. SOCIAL CONSUMPTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE Despite the current hiatus in public and policy concern about energy, the environmental impacts of energy use are increasingly clear. In fact, efforts to empirically examine, theorize, and model the dynamics and consequences of societal energy use have been pursued for more than 20 years. But understanding energy consumption is a far from straightfor- ward matter. Although it is fairly obvious that energy flows are pro- duced and shaped by human action, this consumption only occurs via a complex of fuel flows, energy-conversion technologies, and loosely coupled economic marketing/regulatory systems. And, as energy is con- sumed at many different end-use sites, and under fluctuating environ- mental conditions, the flow is determined by a fairly complex interplay of sociocultural, geographic, technological, and institutional factors. Because we lack an overarching interdisciplinary approach to such human-envi- ronment interactions (Stern 1993), efforts to understand this system have too often been narrowly focused resulting in partial views of the system and its environmental impacts. The social sciences have produced a fairly rich body of work on the role of energy and energy technology in society (e.g., see Cottrell, 1955; Mazur and Rosa, 1974; White, 1975; Adams, 1975; Buttel, 1979; Duncan, 1978; Olsen, 1991; Humphrey and Buttel, 1982; see Rosa et al., 1988, and Lutzenhiser, 1994, for reviews). A large literature also focuses on the connections between social status and consumption in general (Veblen, 1899; Weber, 1978; Lynes, 1955; Packard, 1959; Douglas and Isherwood, 1979; Mason, 1981; Mukerji, 1983; Fussell, 1983; Bourdieu, 1984; Forty,
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78 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION 1986; Miller, 1987; McCracken, 1988; Otnes, 1988; Saunders, 1990; Warde, 1990; Burrows and Marsh, 1992), including the construction of status via the stylized consumption of food, clothing, music, language, automo- biles, housing, and appliances (Ewen, 1976, 1988; Cowan, 1989; Featherstone, 1990, 1991; Gartman, 1991~. We know much less about how technology-shaping processes work in the institutional environment- e.g., how devices and machines come to have the energetic and stylistic features that they do, and how producers and consumers interact in the negotiation of design (Bilker et al., 1989; Bijker and Law, 1992~. And, with a few exceptions (e.g., Uusitalo, 1983), little attention has been paid until quite recently to the linkages between culture, consumption, and the natu- ral environment [see Durning, 1992; Brown, 1989; Schnaiberg's (1991) critique of Brown; Lutzenhiser and Hackett, 1993~. The interdisciplinary literature concerned directly with the consump- tion of energy suggests, however, that social structure and cultural prac- tice are indeed central to the structuring of energy consumption (Lutzenhiser, 1992a; Lutzenhiser and Hackett, 1993), for significant en- ergy use differences are observed between income groups (Newman and Day, 1975; Lacy, 1985; Skumatz, 1988), across life cycle stages (Frey and LaBay, 1983), and among ethnic subcultures (Kohno, 1984; Throgmorton and Bernard, 1986; Hackett and Lutzenhiser, 1991~. Conservation behav- ior is also quite socially variable (Heberlein and Warriner, 1982; Dillman et al., 1983; Stern et al., 1986; Schwartz and True, 1990; Hackett and Lutzenhiser, l991~. Unfortunately, many of these studies have overlooked important housing and technology differences between social groups- "technical" variables that influence consumption. Conventional energy policy models do little better, however, often glossing over the sociocultural aspects of energy use and choosing in- stead to treat "stocks" of buildings and equipment as the molar elements of a thoroughly technical analysis. Although the weaknesses in such approaches are well known (Stern, 1984, 1986; Stern and Aronson, 1984; Archer et al., 1984; Cramer et al., 1985; Baumgartner and Midtunn, 1987; Lutzenhiser,1992b, 1993, 1994), these models continue to dominate policy discourse and the generation of energy system inputs for environmental systems modeling. This disconnect between approaches focused exclusively on either the "social" or the "technical" aspects of energy consumption can, in fact, be overcome through a fairly straightforward synthesis. The following empirical case shows that consumption can, at once, be seen as shaped by the social allocation of buildings and equipment with energetic character- istics and by the cultural expression of energy-using behaviors.
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES A SOCIOTECHNICAL ANALYSIS OF HOUSEHOLD ENERGY CONSUMPTION 79 The data used in the analysis are from a major survey of housing, energy use, and household technology in northern California (California Energy Commission, 1986~. Rather than consumption being homo- genous as many of the simplest conventional models assume these data show considerable variation in energy consumption across sample households (Figure 4-1), with distinct differences in consumption by sub- groups defined on the basis of both "social" (e.g., life cycle stage, wealth, ethnicity) and " technical " (e.g., age, type, and size of housing and appli- ances) characteristics (Table 4-1~. Because the social and technical aspects of consumption are correlated in these sorts of data, a series of multivari- ate models were estimated, one of which is reported in Table 4-2. This sociotechnical model offers a good fit to the data and suggests that both the behavior of social groups and their material conditions contribute to the structuring of consumption in a variety of ways. A second-stage analysis using regression estimates and subgroup characteristics shows that various combinations of behavior, housing, and technology are re- sponsible for shaping consumption quite differently across social groups (Table 4-3~. Rates of input energy waste and carbon dioxide pollution Households 500 400 300 200 100 0 25 50 75 100 125 150 175 mBtu . , . 200 225 250 275 300 325 350 375 400 FIGURE 4-1 Annual Household Energy Consumption. Data from California Energy Commission (1986~.
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80 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION TABLE 4-1 Physical and Social Variation in Energy Consumption, Northern California Households Mean consumption Cases (mBtu) SD n (%) Entire sample 129 (68)4127100 Building size (sq it) <400 69 (43)1604 400-599 71 (51)3118 600-999 83 (40)87721 1,000-1,499 123 (49)121629 1,500-1,999 150 (52)88321 2,000-2,699 182 (63)48612 2,700-3,499 214 (91)1393 > 3,500 250 (149)551 Housing type Single family detached 156 (65)235757 Multi-family 86 (48)177043 Year dwelling built 1979-84 112 (63)65116 1970-78 128 (69)90922 1960-69 138 (70)77119 1950-59 134 (64)73018 1940-49 124 (63)3769 pre-1940 116 (72)69017 Number of persons in household 1 78 (45)79621 2 127 (63)145439 3 144 (63)63017 4 160 (67)51114 5 165 (66)1975 > 6 175 (94)1183 Annual income (1986 dollars) < $10,000 93 (48)63515 $10,000-19,999 106 (55)77119 $20,000-29,999 118 (58)77219 $30,000-39,999 131 (60)66616 $40,000-49,999 139 (62)45311 $50,000-75,000 157 (71)54613 > $75,000 187 (105)2847
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES TABLE 4-1 Continued 81 Mean consumption (mBtu) SD n Cases (%) Race/ethnicity and language spoken at home White 130 (70) 3349 83 Black 119 (62) 154 4 Hispanic 117 (54) 143 4 Hispanic (Spanish) 95 (48) 124 3 Asian 110 (66) 138 3 Asian (other) 106 (54) 130 3 NOTE: SD = Standard deviation. were also found to be socially variable (Table 4-4~. When conventional approaches focus on "typical" households and amorphous stocks of hous- ing, they fail to take these sorts of social variations in consumption into account. UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIAL NATURE OF MATERIALS SYSTEMS A fundamental reorientation of theory is needed. The material envi- ronment can usefully be seen as an evolving social system in which social status (accomplished through status-graded buildings, equipment, and behavior) is a primary determinate of energy consumption, waste, and pollution. In a system of status-graded lifestyles, volumes of energy flow provide rough measures of social standing the poor being excluded from all but modest forms of consumption, the middle classes sustained by consumption centered largely in housing and technologies, and the wealthy empowered in a variety of ways by high levels of energy flow. Rather than the amorphous housing stock assumed in energy analysis, occupied structures actually compose an ordered artificial environment, elaborated over time, its present form reflecting the realities of topogra- phy and climate; historical access to materials; the costs of land, labor, and energy availability (a mirror of past political economy); as well as past technical knowledge and cultural preference. The built environment is a physical accretion of the products of sociotechnical change literally embodying historical social arrangements (e.g., family size and class structure) in built forms forms to which present occupants must behaviorally adapt. In treating buildings and
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82 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION TABLE 4-2 Regression of Annual Energy Consumption on Social, Housing, Technology, and Environmental Variables Energy Consumption (mBtu) b SE p Household characteristics N of children <18 yr (0-8)7.5 (o.g) a N of adults (0-11)6.8 (o.g) a African-American14.4 (4.6) a Hispanic-English (spoken at home)-2.8 (4.6) Hispanic-Spanish-12.3 (5.1) b Asian-English-12.7 (4.9) b Asian-other-26.7 (5.1) a <$15,0004 4 (2.2) c $15,000-34,999-1.4 (2.4) >$50,00015.0 (2.5) a Personts) at home during day7.0 (1.8) a Housing characteristics Dwelling size (1,000 sq ft)27.6 (1.0) a Multi-family unit (attached)-17.8 (2.3) a Built after 1979 (energy building codes)-9.7 (2.6) a Building energy efficiency scale (1-6)-1.7 (0.6) b Air conditioning13.3 (2.4) a Solar water heating-2.3 (4.9) Household technology Clothes washer7.9 (3.6) c Clothes dryer12.5 (3.3) a Dishwasher10.3 (2.0) a Frost-free refrigerator9.4 (2.2) a 2+ refrigerators20.2 (2.4) a Freezer12.4 (2.0) a Other appliances to 7)d2.4 (0.7) a Pool, hot tub, or spa36.1 (3.5) a Environment CEC1_3.5 t4.0' CEC2-8.0 (3.0) b CEC4-0.9 (2.9) CEC5-3.7 (3.3) (Intercept)22.0 (5.5) NOTE: b = slope of regression line, signifying mBtu consumed per unit of the independent variable; SE = standard error of b; CEC = dummy variable signifying climatic regions; mBtu = million British thermal units. ap < .001; bp < .01; cp < .05; dColor TV, computer, stereo, black and white television set, microwave, video, humidifier.
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES 83 technologies as the primary "actors" in society-environment relations, conventional models claim a fictive autonomy for physical objects di- vorcing them from the social structures and cultural processes within which they are embedded and from which they necessarily derive. When used to inform policy, these approaches also import biases masking important social differences in material conditions and behavior. IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH AND POLICY ANALYSIS A number of basic scientific and policy research implications follow from these findings. A considerable amount of fruitful work might be done, for example, in examining empirical patterns of consumption and disaggregating their sources through time across the United States. Link- ages between energy-use patterns and the patterned consumption of other goods and services (automobiles, food, entertainment, travel, etc.) might also be explored. And, the influences of a wider range of lifestyle orienta- tions than can be captured by simple demographic categories should also be examined. Studies of consumption that compare U.S. patterns with those found elsewhere in the industrialized world would also be useful. These studies could extend to the consumption of energy "embodied" in goods and services (a significant fraction of overall consumption). It would also be valuable to inventory and compare other resource flows (water, food, paper, metal, plastic, packaging) and waste flows (garbage, sewage, at- mospheric emissions). And, a good deal of attention is overdue to the social patterning of transportation and gasoline consumption a signifi- cant source of energy demand and environmental pollution. Policy implications also follow from the social variation in consump- tion, the persistence of some low-energy-use cultural patterns in the midst of affluence, and the failure of conventional models to capture these varia- tions. Policy-oriented research might focus on how conventional model- ing systems operate and persist, and how cultural and institutional fac- tors might be introduced to energy-policy modeling. Ethnographic work on cultural differences in consumption could shed light on the roots of persistence of low consumption levels and might suggest how durable and long-lived those patterns might be. Studies of "social traps" in hous- ing and technology both for the poor and the relatively more affluent- might reveal policy openings and long-term problems with consumption rooted in settlement patterns and social institutions (e.g. property-owner- ship conventions, taxation, inheritance, and lending systems). The impli- cations for equity and community that follow from a more social model of built environment and energy use are also significant in a more populous, competitive, and highly engineered future. The growth of consumption
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES 113 (3) No single academic discipline has adequate tools or data for study- ing cross-cultural consumer behavior. (4) The development of consumer culture in developing countries is following a different trajectory from the historical path of the West. (5) There is still every reason to think that consumption will increase as incomes rise, but we cannot yet predict how that increase will be ap- portioned to various goods or sectors. (6) Simple emulation remains an empirically weak model for predic- tion. REFERENCES Andrae, G., and B. Beckman 1985 The Wheat Trap: Bread and Underdevelopment in Nigeria. London: Zed Books. Appadurai, A., ed. 1986 The Social Life of Things. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 1990 Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy. Theory, Culture, and Society 7:295-310. Belk, R. 1988 Third world consumer culture. Research in Marketing. Supplement 4.:103-127. Belk, R., and N. Dholakia 1995 Consumption and Marketing: Macro Dimensions. Belmont, Calif.: Southwestern. Benson, J. 1994 The Rise of Consumer Society in Britain, 1880-1980. London: Longman. Brewer, J., and R. Porter, eds. 1993 Consumption and the World of Goods. New York: Routledge. Campbell, C. 1987 The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell. Craik, J. 1994 The Face of Fashion. London: Routledge. Cross, G. 1993 Time and Money: The Making of Consumer Culture. London: Routledge. Csikszentimihalyi, M., and E. Rochberg-Halton 1981 The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Drummond, P., and R. Patterson, eds. 1988 Television and its Audience: International Research Perspectives. London: British Film Institute Publishing. Ewen, S. 1988 All ConsumingImages. New York: Basic Books. Featherstone, M., ed. lsso Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity. London: Sage Publica- tions. Folbre, N. ~J 1994 Who Pays for the Kids? Gender and the Structure of Constraint. London: Routledge. Foster, R. 1991 Making national cultures in the global ecumene. Annual Review of Anthropology 20:235-260.
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114 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION Friedman, J., ed. 1994 Consumption and Identity. Chur, Switzerland: Harwood. 1990 Being in the world: Globalization and localization. Theory, Culture and Society 7:311-328. Gereffi, G., and M. Korzeniewicz, eds. 1994 Commodity Chains and Global Capitalism. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. Hannerz, U. 1987 The world in Creolization. Africa 57~4~:546-559. 1990 Cosmopolitans and locals in world culture. Theory, Culture, and Society 7:237-251. Holt, D. 1994 Consumers' cultural differences as local systems of tastes: A critique of the per sonality/values approach and an alternative framework. Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research 1:178-184. Horowitz, D. 1988 The Morality of Spending. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press. James, J. 1993 Consumption and Development. New York: St. Martin's Press. Kuisel, R. 1993 Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization. Berkeley: University of California Press. Lears, T.J.J. 1989 Beyond Veblen: Rethinking consumer culture in America. Pp. 73-97 in Simon Bronner, ea., Consuming Visions: Accumulation and Display of Goods in America, 1880-1920. New York: Norton. Liebes, T., and E. Katz 1990 The Export of Meaning: Cross-Cultural Readings of Dallas. New York: Oxford University Press. Lluch, C., A. Powell, and R. Williams 1977 Patterns in Household Demand and Saving. New York: Oxford University Press and the World Bank. McCracken, G. 1988 Culture and Consumption. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Miller, D. 1995 Acknowledging Consumption. London: Routledge. Mintz, S. 1985 Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books. Moore, S. 1993 Interpreting Audiences: The Ethnography of Media Consumption. London: Sage Publications. Phipps, S., and P. Burton 1995 Social/institutional variables and behavior within households: An empirical test using the Luxembourg income study. Feminist Economics 1~1~:151-174. Rassuli, K. and S. Hollander 1986 Desire induced, innate, insatiable? Journal of Macromarketing 6~2~:4-24. Richards, T. 1991 The Commodity Culture of Victorian Britain: Advertising and Spectacle, 1851-1914. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Sherry, J., ed. 1995 Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior: An Anthropological Sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES 115 Sklair, L. 1994 The culture-ideology of consumerism in urban China. Research in Consumer Be- havior, Vol. 7. Greenwich, Conn.: JAIPress. Tiersten, L. 1993 Redefining consumer culture: Recent literature on consumption and the bour- geoisie in Western Europe. Radical History Review 57:116-159. Tobin, J., ed. 1992 Re-Made in Japan: Everyday Life and Consumer Taste in a Changing Society. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Tomlinson, J. 1991 Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins Uni- versity Press. Wagnleitner, R. 1994 Coca-Colonization and the Cold War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Ware, W., and M. Dupagne 1994 Effects of U.S. television programs on foreign audiences: A meta-analysis. Jour- nalism Quarterly 71~4~:947-959. Wilk, R. 1995 The local and the global in the political economy of beauty: From Miss Belize to Miss World. Review of International Political Economy 2~1~:117-134.
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116 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION CULTURAL AND SOCIAL EVOLUTIONARY DETERMINANTS OF CONSUMPTION Willett Kempton and Christopher Payne In the workshop paper summarized here (see Kempton and Payne, forthcoming, for the complete version), we draw data from a wide range of human societies to ask: What can cross-cultural comparisons teach us about the relationship between consumption and quality of life? We argue that the dependence of quality of life on consumption is not mono- tonic and is both weaker and more complex than is often assumed. We begin by addressing two myths that underlie much thinking about consumption. The first myth is that quality of life generally increases with higher consumption levels that is, more consumption of goods and services increases the quality of life. This relationship is believed to hold across societies and across social strata within any society. Parts of it are parodied in the tee-shirt slogan "He who dies with the most toys wins." The second myth is that society evolves and changes to improve the lot of individuals. If our society previously had one form of government, kin- ship system, economy, or whatever and another form replaces it, the societal change improves the quality of life of members of the changed society. We call these the "most toys" myth and the "social evolution for individual benefit" myth. They are addressed at several points here. We begin by considering the types of societies within which biologi- cally modern humans evolved. These societies are small, organized around family relationships, and subsist by hunting and gathering. Both mobility and their social organization limit consumption. Mobile societ- ies shift residences, whether on a predictable yearly cycle based upon seasonal cycles of wild crops and game or moving more opportunistically to follow herds, water, or areas not yet exhausted of plant resources. Individuals in these societies limit consumption simply via the limit on inventories you can't possess more than you can carry. Socially, hunting and gathering societies are organized around family relationships and are egalitarian. We also briefly examine a subsequent form of subsistence, swidden agriculture. This pattern relies on cutting and burning forest, farming the plot for one or a few years, and abandoning it for decades to lie fallow and regrow. As societies moved from hunting and gathering to swidden agriculture, and then to fixed agriculture, changes in social and political organization accompanied these production and settlement changes. Among other things, these changes increase status differentiation. With larger populations in settlements and social differentiation comes the need
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES 117 for display of status by means of prestige goods. Subsequently in social evolution, material consumption is driven partially by status competi- tion. Remarkably, the consumption literature rarely distinguishes con- sumption for social-status display from sustenance, enjoyment, or other (sometimes overlapping) motivations for consumption. Social status con- sumption is a zero-sum game, which drives competing individuals or groups toward higher consumption ending not with "need satisfaction" but only with exhaustion of an individual's resources. Acting alone, each individual competing for status seeks to make the best of his or her position. But satisfaction of these individual preferences itself alters the situation that faces others seeking to satisfy similar wants. A round of transactions to act out personal wants of this kind therefore leaves each individual with a worse bargain than was reckoned on when the transaction was undertaken, because the sum of such acts does not correspondingly improve the position of all individuals taken together. There is an "adding-up" problem (Hirsch, 1976~. LEVELS OF CONSUMPTION Next we address relative levels of consumption across societies. We compare consumption of the main two throughputs of environmental interest, mass and energy, and further divide mass throughputs into re- cycled and nonrecycled categories. Energy use has been thoroughly stud- ied in a number of indigenous societies. Total mass throughputs of indig- enous societies have not been studied explicitly, but we can make estimates from existing ethnographic data. The bulk of the mass used by indigenous peoples is biodegradable and recycled by biological processes. Wood, hide, reed or bamboo, foodstuffs, and such, when discarded, de- grade and feed biological cycles. These societies also create a one-way (nonrecycled) flow of materials for stone tools, such as chert, flint, and obsidian. Ceramic vessels can survive 10,000 years before reintegration into the soil, so we consider them nonrecycled as well. Table 4-6 shows four types of societies, with estimates for energy, nonrecycled material, and recycled materials. Note that hunter-gatherers function at two orders of magnitude less energy and one order of magni- tude less materials than the United States. Swiddeners (based on Beckerman, 1976) use about the same level of materials as does the United States but differ from the United States in that over 99 percent of the materials are recycled. The supposedly modern concept of "sus- tainability" has been achieved in most hunting-gathering and swidden agricultural societies, as evidenced by the fact that many of these societies can be shown to have run their systems of materials and energy through- put in the same locations for millennia. These societies modify their
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118 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION TABLE 4-6 A Rough Quantitative Comparison of Energy and Materials Use Across Diverse Types of Societies Nonrecycled Energy Materials Recycled Materials (kW/ capita) (kg/ capita / day) (kg/ capita / day) Hunting and gathering 0.11 0.035 3.6 Swidden horticulture 0.25 0.15 50-100 Agriculture in a 1-3 0.5 4-50 developing country U.S.A. 11 56 2.7 NOTE: The full paper explains how the quantities were calculated or estimated. environments initially especially swiddeners but then continue in the same location for very long periods without continuing environmental degradation. Their long-term durability within the ecosystem is not matched by durability in contact with the global political economic sys- tem upon this contact they are quickly absorbed into the nonsustainable world economy. HOW CAN ONE COMPARE QUALITY OF LIFE? Low-consumption societies are not very relevant if the life they live is "nasty, brutish and short" [Hobbes, 1968~1651~:186~. Comparing quality of life across societies is fraught with problems, but anthropologists have developed some measures. To summarize briefly, our paper suggests potential candidates such as nutrition, health, life-span, work time vs. leisure time, in- vs. out-migration ("revealed preference" for a given soci- ety), and relative perceived quality of life by ethnographers. Of course, this is not a complete list of all the measures we would like to have. What the above measures have to recommend them is that they are in available data ethnographic, archaeological, human biological, or paleoarchaeological records. When objective measures are applied to compare the quality of life across widely divergent societies, the results are surprising. We concentrate here on work time and health; other mea- sures are covered in Kempton and Payne (forthcoming). RESULTS OF COMPARISON Regarding health measures, studies of skeletal remains show that health declined not improved as might be expected after transitions from hunting-gathering to early agriculture, then from early agriculture
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES 119 to archaic states. Decreases in health occurred due to the greatly reduced range of plant species eaten, social stratification resulting in separation of decision makers from the bulk of the population, and high population densities leading to infectious disease (Diamond, 1987~. Health did not improve markedly until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as a re- sult of public health measures in the cities and the advent of modern antibiotics. Life-span is longer in industrialized societies than in any of the indigenous societies we discuss. One component of the "most toys" myth is that the devices we con- sume reduce our work time i.e., that life is easier today than in earlier historical periods or in technologically primitive societies. Regarding earlier historical periods, Juliet Schor has challenged the myth of less work in the modern era. She takes the comparison back to medieval time (Schor, 1991), finding a large increase in work time during the industrial revolution and a decline back to medieval levels during the twentieth century. We feel that the work-time comparison gets more interesting when extended to indigenous peoples. Several sources demonstrate that sustenance requires less work in primitive societies than in our own. In one study of indigenous people, Johnson (1978), compares middle- class France with the Machiguenga, a horticultural group in the Peruvian rain forest, another society autonomous from the global economy. The middle-class French had 10 hours of free time per day, and the Amazo- nian people had 14 hours of free time per day; free time in each case included about 8 hours of sleep. Qualitatively, Johnson made parallel observations about his own time sense while living there: "[In] their communities . . . I sense a definite decrease in time pressure . . . when I return home [to the United States] I am conscious of the pressure and sense of hurry building up to its former level" (1978:53~. Other studies of time required for subsistence are reported in Sahlins (1972~. Hunting- gathering societies often require only 3-4 hours of work to provide an ample and varied diet. In sum, hunter-gatherers and swidden agricultur- alists work less and have more leisure than citizens of industrialized soci- eties. Other studies of contemporary indigenous peoples being drawn into the market economy similarly demonstrate the forces that lead to incorporation into market-based, higher-consumption lifestyles. The at- traction at time of entry occurs despite eventual degradation in the incor- porated peoples' quality of life (e.g., Barlett and Brown 1985; Bodley, 1990~. To briefly consider urban-industrial society, many authors argue that many of the historical developments of the past century have been incon- sistent with a higher quality of life for individuals. Historians like Wiebe (1967), Hughes (1989), and Marcus and Segal (1989) have traced the rise of the technological society during the twentieth century and identified its
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20 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION defining focus to be the growth of large-scale organizational systems. Organizational systems can be defined as operational structures that pro- vide their members with efficient means of achieving given ends [com- pare the administrative theories of Simon (1957) and the economic theo- ries of Galbraith (1967~. Social critics such as Mumford (1934, 1967, 1970) and Ellul (1964) have argued that these organizational goals result in isolated, dehuman- ized individuals, while benefiting the organization itself. Furthermore, organizational theorists have argued that large-scale organizations pre- vent individuals from developing fully on a psychological level. Draw- ing heavily on the work of psychologists such as lung and Marcuse, Denhardt (1981) has argued that there is a fundamental tension between the individual and collective psyches. This presents a problem of inte- grating the individual and collective psyches into a self-actualized whole. In this view, the development of organizational systems has led to a col- lective psyche that values certain aspects of the human psyche (rational- ity, instrumentality, etc.) at the expense of others (emotion, expression, etc). The repression of these emotive values hampers individual develop- ment. Because of the structure of organizations, therefore, social and individual development is inhibited. The perspectives of these authors suggest that organizations have become autonomous actors in our society, furthering their own aims rather than human welfare. When people believe that the efficient pro- duction of goods is the means for improving their quality of life, this pursuit makes sense. As people come to recognize the destructive charac- teristics of the material lifestyle and of the systems that support it, they see organizations as, in many respects, fulfilling organizational aims to the detriment of human individuals. The aspects of life that define us as human expressive, creative, unique are those aspects that are in con- flict with the needs of organizational structures for efficient operation. It is, finally, organizational operations that are supported by the myth of consumption. CONCLUSION Obviously, we do not advocate abandoning fixed communities, agri- culture, and modern technology, a change impossible at current world population levels. Rather, we wish to list the following observations from the data outlined here and explored more in the full paper: (1) Most early societies had consumption levels several orders of magnitude smaller than industrial societies today. However, some indig- enous societies had very high levels of per capita materials consumption,
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES 121 similar in magnitude to the United States today but with virtually all in materials promptly recycled by the biosphere. (2) By objective indicators other than life-span, the quality of life in some ultra-low-consumption societies seems rather high higher than the societies they next evolved into, and by many indicators higher than ours today. (3) Major social transitions can occur if they provide benefits to deci- sion-making elites and greater "fitness" at the societal level (e.g., military advantage or rapid growth and spread of the sociopolitical system). (4) Increasing the quality of life of the broad masses of individuals is not a criterion by which organizations survive, nor has it been a force determining the direction of social evolution. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We are grateful to fill Neitzel for major conceptual, literature, and reference suggestions. Steven Beckerman and Thomas Rocek provided important data. Abigail lahiel, Faith Mitchell, and various participants at the National Research Council workshop provided helpful comments on the argument and logic of drafts of this paper. None of these commenta- tors and contributors are responsible for its content. REFERENCES Barlett, P.F., and P.J. Brown 1985/ Agricultural development and the quality of life. Agriculture and Human Values. 1994 Pp 175-182 reprinted in A. Podolefsky and P. J. Brown, Applying Anthropology: An Introductory Reader. Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield Publishing. Beckerman, S.J. 1976 The Cultural Energetics of the Bars of Northern Columbia. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of New Mexico, Department of Cultural Anthropology. Bodley, J.H. lsso Victims of Progress. Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield Publishing. Denhardt, R.B. 1981 In the Shadow of Organization. Lawrence. Kans.: The Regents Press of Kansas. Diamond, J. 1987 The worst mistake in the history of the human race. Discover (May) 64-66. Ellul, J. 1964/ The Technological Society. Translated by J. Wilkinson. New York: Alfred 1954 A. Knopf and Random House. Galbraith, J.K. 1967 The New Industrial State. New York: Signet. Hirsch, F. 1976 Social Limits to Growth. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
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22 ENVIRONMENTALLY SIGNIFICANT CONSUMPTION Hobbes, T. 1968/ Leviathan. Penguin Classics, 1985 ed. New York: Penguin Books. 1651 Hughes, T.P. 1989 American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm 1870-1970. New York: Penguin Books. Johnson, A. 1978 In search of the affluent society. Human Nature (Sept):50-59. Kempton, W., and C. Payne in Cultural and social evolutionary determinants of consumption. In T. Dietz, ea., press Environmental Impacts of Consumption. Marcus, A.I., and H.P. Segal 1989 Technology in America: A Brief History. Jovanovich. Mumford, L. 1934 Technics and Civilization. San Diego, Calif.: Harvest/Harcourt Brace and Company. 1967 Technics and Human Development. The Myth of the Machine, Vol. 1, 1st ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1970 The Pentagon of Power. The Myth of the Machine, Vol. 2, 1st ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Sahlins, M. 1972 Stone Age Economics. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton. Schor, J.B. 1991 The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure. New York: Basic Books. Simon, H.A. 1957 Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Process in Administrative Orga- nization, 2nd ed. New York: Free Press. Wiebe, R.H. 1967 The Search for Order: 1877-1920. New York: Hill and Wang. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace BIBLIOGRAPHY British Petroleum Company 1994 Statistical Review of World Energy. London: British Petroleum Company. Cohen, M.N., and G.J. Armelagos 1984 Paleopathology and the Origins of Agriculture. New York: Academic Press. Crevecoeur, J.H. St. John 1782/ Letter from an American farmer. In A. Kolodny, Among the Indians: The uses 1993 of captivity. New York Times Book Review. Qan): 1. The Harwood Group 1995 Yearning for Balance: Views of Americans on Consumption, Materialism, and the Envi- ronment. Takoma Park, Md.: Merck Family Fund. Kempton, W., J.S. Boster, and J.A. Hartley 1995 Environmental Values in American Culture. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T Press. Kolodny, A. 1993 Among the Indians: The uses of captivity. New York Times Book Review Qan): 1. Lee, R.B. 1969 Mung bushman subsistence: An input-output analysis. In A.P. Vayda, ea., Envi- ronment ~ Cultural Behavior. Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press.
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EXAMINING THE DRIVING FORCES 123 1979 The !Kung San. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Lightfoot, R.R. 1994 The Duckfoot site. Archaeology of the House and Household, Vol. 2; Cortez, Colo.: Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Rappaport, R.A. 1971 The flow of energy in an agricultural society. Scientific American 225~3~:117-122. U.S. Bureau of the Census 1992 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1992, 112th ed. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. Wernick, I.K., and J.H. Ausubel 1995 National materials flow and the environment. Annual Review of Energy and Envi- ronment 20:463492.
Representative terms from entire chapter: