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The Culture of Consumerism: A Catholic and Personalist Critique

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Abstract

In this article, we present an understanding and critique of consumerism in the tradition of Christian social thought that is both Catholic and personalist. We consider various approaches to the problem of consumerism. Is consumerism simply the necessary result of the modern capitalist economy? Is it, from another perspective, simply the reflection of our culture’s overall worldview? In answering these questions, we examine briefly five approaches to consumerism, that of John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., David F. Wells, Christopher Lasch, Gabriel Marcel, and John Paul II. Each is critical of consumerism, but their approaches bring out different aspects of the problem of consumerism. We also sketch an anthropology of Christian personalism. We do so because the culture of consumerism betrays significant confusion about the nature of the human person. This is followed by an account of the concept of consumerism. Finally, we clarify a personalist understanding of the relation between consumerism and the market economy.

Eduardo J. Echeverria and Gregory R. Beabout, "The Culture of Consumerism: A Catholic and Personalist Critique," Journal of Markets & Morality 5, no. 2 (Fall 2002): 339-383


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