When we talk about consumerism, the emotive arguments for and against are always black and white. Consumerism is painted as unnecessary and low or no growth is seen as the optimum state for people and planet. But what if acquiring objects and possessions is intrinsic to human nature? What if, in reality, the consumerism argument is far more nuanced, which should make us rethink how we spend, what we buy and which things are most important to us. Joining us to work out where next for consumer spending and give historical context to the rampant consumerism we seem to love is the author of ‘The Empire of Things’, Professor Frank Trentmann.
Ever since the Global Financial Crisis, living standards have split between those who own their own home and those who do not. Inability to find work is no longer an indicator of poverty. In fact more than half of those living in poverty come from a household where someone is in work. The property-owning democracy was meant to make people more conservative, but the rise in home ownership exacerbated the rise in inequality. What effect its reversal might have on our politics is anybody’s guess.