The Challenge of Affluence
Self-control and Well-being in the United States and Britain Since 1950
By (author) Avner Offer
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Challenge of Affluence by Avner Offer
Book DescriptionSince the 1940s Americans and Britons have come to enjoy an era of rising material abundance. Yet this has been accompanied by a range of social and personal disorders, including family breakdown, addiction, mental instability, crime, obesity, inequality, economic insecurity, and declining trust. Avner Offer argues that well-being has lagged behind affluence in these societies, because they present an environment in which consistent choices are difficult to achieve over different time ranges and in which the capacity for personal and social commitment is undermined by the flow of novelty. His approach draws on economics and social science, makes use of the latest cognitive research, and provides a detailed and reasoned critique of modern consumer society, especially the assumption that freedom of choice necessarily maximizes individual and social well-being. The book falls into three parts. Part one analyses the ways in which economic resources map on to human welfare, why choice is so intractable, and how commitment to people and institutions is sustained. It argues that choice is constrained by prior obligation and reciprocity. The second section then applies these conceptual arguments to comparative empirical studies of advertising, of eating and obesity, and of the production and acquisition of appliances and automobiles. Finally, in part three, Offer investigates social and personal relations in the USA and Britain, including inter-personal regard, the rewards and reversals of status, the social and psychological costs of inequality, and the challenges posed to heterosexual love and to parenthood by the rise of affluence.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780199216628
(233mm x 155mm x 24mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 1-Nov-2007
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Avner Offer
Insecurity, Inequality, and Obesity in Affluent Societies, Hardback (April 2012)
Papers presented at a conference held at St. Anne's College, Oxford, Nov. 27-28, 2009.
Property and Politics 1870-1914, Paperback (February 2010)
This book presents an innovative study on the history and impact of landed property, urban development and taxation between 1870-1914.
Slavery, Family, and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic, Hardback (July 2006)» View all books by Avner Offer
A study of the British Atlantic World through a case study of the plantation-owning Lascelles.
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Author Biography - Avner Offer
Avner Offer is Chichele Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford and Fellow of All Souls College. Prior to his academic career he spent eight years working as a soldier, farmer, and conservation worker in Israel, where he was born and raised. His other books include In Pursuit of the Quality of Life (1996), also published by Oxford University Press, and he has been researching the question of the quality of life in affluent societies since the early 1990s. He is also a Fellow of the British Academy.
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