Criminal Degradations of Consumer Culture

O-brien, Martin Anthony (2011) Criminal Degradations of Consumer Culture. In: Global Harms. Ecological crime and speciesism. Nova Science Publishers, Oslo, pp. 35-50. ISBN 978-1-60456-770-0

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In this chapter I take a ‘social harm’ approach to explore some of the degrading impacts of modern consumerism. My aim is to explore the harmful, often criminal, sometimes fatal consequences that attend the supply of consumer goods in contemporary capitalist societies. At the same time, I note that a focus on social harm begs some very fundamental questions about criminology as an academic discipline – or ‘field’ of study. When a cradle-to-grave assessment of consumer goods is undertaken it reveals that many personal and environmental degradations are nothing more than the ordinary means by which objects are produced, distributed and discarded in contemporary societies. In order to unpack the mundane character of the degradations of a consumer culture I use the example of prawn production but my more general argument is that what is true for prawns is true for (almost) any consumer object.

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