Collective dissonance and the transition to post-consumerism
Maurie J. Cohen
Indications that Anglo-European countries will transition to post-consumer economies
Because of lags realigning common conceptions with evolving extant conditions, macroeconomic transitions typically engender pronounced collective dissonance. The 2007 financial crisis triggered such a process in several Anglo-European countries and large fissures have been opening up in recent years between societal expectations and lived experiences. Historical precedents for this situation can be found, for example, in the waning of British imperialism during the twentieth century and the political restructuring of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the 1990s. Indications of a transition from consumerism to post-consumerism are now becoming apparent in the United States and parts of Europe. Impelling this transformation are shifting demographics, technological changes, and new social values. These developments are being expressed in terms of stagnating wages, persistently high unemployment, widening income inequality, sluggish consumer demand, volatile financial markets, contracting middle-class security, and general public malaise. The case of Japan over the past two decades may offer useful insights to inform this nascent transition to a post-consumerist future and to help navigate some of its challenges.
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