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The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950 (Paperback)
  • The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950 (Paperback)
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The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950 (Paperback)

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£31.49
Paperback 472 Pages / Published: 01/11/2007
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Since 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.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199216628
Number of pages: 472
Weight: 687 g
Dimensions: 233 x 155 x 24 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Avner Offer's latest sparkling and intellectually pugnacious contribution to his protean bibliography represents a tour de force of scholarship and provocative argument... this is an enormously rich and highly penetrating and stimulating study, based on vast and perceptive reading and research. It is also novel in its substance and approach. * Barry Supple, The English Historical Review *
An intriguing book...one of Britain's most subtle thinkers about how we live now. * Will Hutton, The Observer *
[A] powerful argument... This is a book that uses the tools of economics to illuminate the myopic lens through which economics views the world. * Barry Schwartz, London Review of Books *
Avner Offer inserts a moral dimension into the study of economic history that has been missing since R.H. Tawney, offering a warning of the undesirable consequences of the pursuit of individual self-interest. * M.J. Daunton, Economic History Review *
...an intelligent, original, provocative, and moralistic book which should make historians think extremely seriously about important questions, even if they find themselves in disagreement with his approach. * M.J. Daunton, Economic History Review *
This insightful book provides a fresh and refreshing new look at life in the United States and Britain over the past half century...provides invaluable insights. * John F Helliwell, EH.NET *
A brilliantly argued book. * William Skidelsky, Prospect *
..always fascinating and thought provoking, Offer's range of reference is remarkably broad. He travels confidently across the social-science spectrum. * Howard Davies, THES *
In the 1960s and 1970s, economists started worrying about environmental and social limits to growth. Avner Offer has added a weighty new critique to this tradition. * The Economist *
The book is an invaluable source of information on changing attitudes and practices in the US and Britain since the end of the second world war. * Samuel Brittan, Financial Times *
an uncompromising work of scholarship * Martin Vander Weyer, The Spectator *
...diligently and readably exposes the extent to which the past 25 years have forced people in the English-speaking world to believe that there is no alternative to dual-income workaholic consumerism, the "hedonic treadmill". * Oliver James, The Guardian *
Sceptics who want some political muscle behind the diagnosis of our discontents will enjoy Avner Offer's account of why more means worse... * Boyd Tonkin and Christina Patterson, The Independent *
Offer makes many compelling and interesting arguments that are backed by a wealth of data and analysis. * Charles Kenny, Business History Review *
This is a wide, wise, and careful book. * Joy Parr, Journal of Economic History *
Offer's narrative of a complex and difficult topic is masterful. * Barnaby Marsh, Economic and Human Biology *
Offer's analysis of the complex relationship between economic markets and relationships and non-economic dynamics such as love, regard and esteem, and the impact of affluence on these interrelated systems, is superb. * Helen Laville, The Americas *
The experience of reading The Challenge of Affluence is suffused with a pervasive suspicion that this might just be one of the most important books you have read. * Tim Jackson, Social Policy and Administration *
a fascinating, ambitious, wide-ranging, freewheeling, and sometimes exasperating book about the perils of affluence. * Bruce G. Carruthers, American Journal of Sociology *

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