Inequality, Social Respectability, Political Power, and Environmental Devastation
AbstractAlthough healthy societies may require a degree of material inequality, higher levels of inequality have been linked to negative social consequences ranging from poorer health to lessened democracy. However, the greatest contemporary threat of excessive inequality might be its contribution to increased environmental degradation. This article explores the manner in which inequality augments consumption, by drawing upon Thorstein Veblen's theory of consumer behavior whereby in societies in which fluid social mobility is believed possible, inequality encourages households to seek social certification through consumption. The ideology, institutions, and behavior generated by this focus on consumption reduce the potential for people to achieve certification of value through more environmentally friendly domains such as work and community. This article also addresses the manner in which inequality impedes responses aimed at reducing environmental damage by augmenting the political power of those whose interests would be most harmed by measures to protect the environment.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by M.E. Sharpe, Inc. in its journal Journal of Economic Issues.
Volume (Year): 45 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.mesharpe.com/mall/results1.asp?acr=jei
community; conspicuous consumption; ideology; social status; work quality;
Other versions of this item:
- Jon D. Wisman, 2010. "Inequality, Social Respectability, Political Power and Environmental Devastation," Working Papers 2010-09 JEL classificatio, American University, Department of Economics.
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Morgan Kelly, 2000. "Inequality And Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 530-539, November.
- Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2004.
"Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?,"
UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers
2004-14, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
- Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2005. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(507), pages F397-F412, November.
- Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2003. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right," Department of Economics University of Siena 409, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
- J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
- Jon D. Wisman, 2013. "Government Is Whose Problem?," Working Papers 2013-01, American University, Department of Economics.
- Jon D. Wisman & Matthew Davis, 2011. "Degraded Work, Declining Community, Rising Inequality, and the Transformation of the Protestant Ethic in America: 1870-1930," Working Papers 2011-08, American University, Department of Economics.
- Maria S. Floro, 2012. "The Crises of Environment and Social Reproduction: Understanding their Linkages," Working Papers 2012-04, American University, Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ian Winship) or (Chris Nguyen).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.