Sustainable Consumption A La Francaise? Conventional, Innovative, and Alternative Approaches to Sustainability and Consumption in France

Consumption has again become the object of critical political attention in France over the last few years. This article, from a symposium on the politics of sustainable consumption, considers the current situation in France. The author contends that, despite obvious links with the global project to promote “sustainable consumption,” this recent renewal of interest in France has had little connection with Agenda 21. The author reviews the history of the fragmented style of environmental management in France. This history has contributed to the slow uptake of “sustainable development” and has been a major impediment in the implementation of successful eco-consumption policies. The author stresses that if the ultimate goal of “sustainable consumption” is to transcend present ways of acquiring goods and to move toward a reassessment of the values underlying them, then several developments in France become directly relevant. The author then considers three especially notable developments: the implementation of innovative employment policies such as the 35-hour work week; the revival of the country’s anti-consumerism movement; and the adoption of confrontational positions on culture and agriculture during international trade negotiations. The author concludes that, as a whole, these trends suggest the emergence of a nationwide exercise in discriminating consumerism and a move away from an unquestioned materialism.


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  • Accession Number: 01000373
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 24 2005 1:02PM