This chapter explores “anti-consumerist” critique and practice as articulated in a range of Western nations over the last two decades. It surveys the rise of a twenty-first-century consumption politics, identifying how it has coalesced around opposition to consumerism and overconsumption, while remaining elusive in the extent to which it advocates substantive social and economic change and in the degree to which it rejects or embraces consumption as an arena of agency. The chapter explores this ambiguity through discussion of two interconnected forms of recent consumption politics—“responsible” consumer choice and “alternative” enterprise—outlining the fractured and tenuous ways in which these practices speak of contestation and of the emancipatory in relation to consumption and consumer economies. The chapter concludes by recognizing the conceptual and ideological limits of contemporary consumption politics, while insisting also that it has significantly expanded the political and ethical sensibilities through which we understand the commodity and its impact.
The conventional narrative on the crisis of climate change and its links to migration sees the physical impacts of climate change—such as sea-level rise, drought, soil salinization, and floods—as driving massive human migration, increasing existing flows from the Global South to the Global North as people flee disasters and famine. Yet contradictory evidence demonstrates that the relationship between climate change and migration is not so simple. Africa is indeed the most vulnerable content to these impacts, but this extreme vulnerability arises from physical exposure and because of the interplay of numerous social, political, economic, and environmental factors. Moreover, migration dynamics related to the climate change crisis manifest in nonlinear, heterogeneous ways across subregions and countries. Thus, this chapter outlines the varying and multidimensional relationships between human mobility and climate change in Africa. It considers the threat of climate change to African settlement dynamics both presently and in the century to come, before providing an overview of climate change–migration dynamics and challenges throughout the continent.
David Brady, Agnes Blome, and Hanna Kleider
This article explores the influence of politics and institutions on poverty and inequality. It first considers the general contention that poverty is shaped by the combination of power resources and institutions. On one hand, scholars in the power resources tradition have emphasized the role of class-based collective political actors for mobilizing “power resources” in the state and economy. On the other hand, institutionalists have highlighted the role of formal rules and regulations. The article goes on to discuss the theoretical arguments of power resources theory and the evidence for key power resources (that is, collective political actors like labor unions and parties). It also reviews institutional explanations, focusing on the key concepts and theories and as well as the evidence linking the most salient institutions to poverty. Finally, it examines how state policy influences poverty and presents several challenges for future research.
Frances Fox Piven and Lorraine C. Minnite
This article examines how political action by poor people can influence public policy. It begins with a critique of theories about poverty policy development for the poor as well as the political agency of the poor before discussing the dissensus politics arguments of Piven and Cloward. It then considers how globalization and the neoliberal assault on the welfare state are producing limited conditions of convergence between rich and poor countries with respect to policy, including countries in the West and in Latin America. It also offers suggestions aimed at addressing the neglect of poor people’s politics by focusing specifically on the American case, while also suggesting the relevance of that case to other societies. It asserts that the politics of the poor that stem from their interdependent power and their disruptive actions, as well as the policy consequences, can look different depending on the changing institutional and political context.