Sustainable Lifestyles and the Quest for Plenitude Case Studies of the New Economy Juliet B. Schor, Craig J. Thompson

Publication date:
29 Jul 2014
Yale University Press
280 pages: 235 x 156 x 16mm
6 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

How small, innovative grassroots groups are discovering a new kind of economy and a richer quality of life

Many of today’s most troubling environmental and economic issues have come to seem insoluble: carbon emissions, overshoot, inequality, joblessness, and a dysfunctional food system. Can we change direction, move away from business as usual, and achieve a more sustainable, empowering, and humane economy? Through a fascinating array of illuminating case studies, this hope-filled book affirms that we can.
In locations across the United States and around the globe, local participants are forging their own versions of small-scale, low-footprint, high-satisfaction lifestyles and communities. From raw-milk consumers and members of alternative agricultural initiatives to time bankers, artisan producers in the Aude region of France, and bicycle mechanics on the South Side of Chicago, individuals and small groups are exploring the practice of plenitude. Their efforts demonstrate how social and economic transformation happens and suggest new paths toward larger-scale change and a richer quality of life for all.

Juliet B. Schor is professor of sociology, Boston College, and the author of True Wealth (originally published as Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth). She lives in Newton, MA. Craig J. Thompson is Gilbert and Helen Churchill Professor of Marketing, School of Business, University of Wisconsin–Madison. He lives in Madison, WI.

“This book is unique in pulling together case studies on emerging lifestyles that balance production and consumption with the environment, support economic systems that foster human well-being, and invigorate local communities. It will inspire students to rethink the possibilities of future economic systems.”—Eleanor Sterling, Director, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History

Practicing Plenitude covers diverse topics in a range of geographic locations to tell the stories of people practicing plenitude and to point out lessons to improve future work and initiatives. It is well structured and thought out with three clear sections and authors who have significant experience on their topics.”—Liz Veazey, Treasurer, Highlander Center Board of Directors; Co-founder, Energy Action Coalition

“If you're feeling a little down about the possibilities for humane and rewarding changes in our economy and society, these case studies should cheer you up. Another world is possible, and you can see it starting to come to life in these pages.”—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

“At last, a serious look at the community-based ‘new economy’ that is emerging all around us! The powerful concept of ‘plenitude’ is foundational for the future, and Schor and Thompson have orchestrated fascinating case studies of its practitioners in action.”—James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy

“Schor and Thompson have brought together by far the most sophisticated case studies of the fast-exploding new economy movement’s most innovated localist approaches. This book is must reading for anyone serious about helping move us all beyond our decaying, stalemated and increasingly dangerous economic system.”—Gar Alperovitz, author of What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution

“While leaders bumble towards climate catastrophe, at the grassroots people are busy inventing new models for better and happier lives. Reading this book will leave you energized, optimistic, and ready to think about your own life in new ways.”—Richard Wilk, Indiana University

“As faith in large institutions, from the corporation to the courts, the media to finance, declines while emissions rise, it is easy to be pessimistic about the future, if not downright despairing. But what one sees depends a lot on where one looks.

“Here, Schor and Thompson look where mainstream observers, including the media and academics, tend not to look—those practitioners who have no patience for doom and gloom and have rolled up their sleeves to create the world they want to live in. The cases in this book show how such ‘plenitude practitioners’ are pointing the way to a future that is realistic because it exists.”—Thomas Princen, author of The Logic of Sufficiency and Treading Softly