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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the environmental history of consumption, first by considering Yvon Chouinard’s 2005 memoir, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. In particular, it analyzes Chouinard’s relationship to consumerism and allegiance to sustainability, along with their implications for environmentalism. It then turns to a discussion of how earlier historians have defined and researched consumption and consumerism by focusing on issues such as those connected to the mass market, advertising, and corporate manipulations of consumer behavior. It also explores how the cultural turn in environmental history led scholars to reassess capitalism and the salience of consumerism. Finally, it looks at consumption through three themes—political economies and cultures of consumption, commodity chains and flows, and the embodiment of consumerism as health—that should be addressed by scholars willing to study consumption.

Keywords: environmental history, consumption, Yvon Chouinard, consumerism, environmentalism, mass market, advertising, health, political economy, consumer chains, consumer behavior, cultural turn, capitalism

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