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Buying Time and Getting By

The Voluntary Simplicity Movement

Mary Grigsby

Publication Year: 2004

Buying Time and Getting By provides a detailed account of the voluntary simplicity movement, which took off in the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The concept of voluntary simplicity encompasses both self-change aimed at bringing personal practice into alignment with ecological values and cultural change that rejects consumerist values and careerism. While simple livers struggle with self-change, they work toward the broader goals of a sustainable global environment, sustainable communities, increased equality in access to resources, and economies aimed at human quality of life rather than profit. Author Mary Grigsby looks inside the movement at the daily lives of participants and includes their own accounts of their efforts. She also uses reflexive empirical analysis to explore race, class, and gender in relation to the movement. The influence of the dominant culture and institutionalized power in shaping the movement are balanced with the importance of participants’ dynamic identity work.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Contents

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pp. v-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

I am grateful to the people in the voluntary simplicity movement who shared their lives with me. Their generosity in giving their time and their candid discussions of the processes and struggles they experience in seeking to live simple lives made the research for this book possible. Other scholars, particularly standpoint ...

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CHAPTER ONE Voluntary Simplicity: A Cultural Movement

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pp. 1-24

People in the voluntary simplicity movement are concerned about environmental degradation, critical of conspicuous consumption and “careerism,” and dissatisfied with the quality of life afforded by full participation in mass consumer society. Simple livers, as participants in voluntary simplicity are often called, ...

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CHAPTER TWO The Ecological Ethic and the Spirit of Voluntary Simplicity

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pp. 25-52

This chapter describes the patterned themes in the voluntary simplicity movement literature in order to identify the distinctive and essential elements of the movement ideology that informs the practices of many of its participants and attracts them to the movement. Of course, not all proponents of voluntary simplicity ...

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CHAPTER THREE Getting a Life: Constructing a Moral Identity in the Voluntary Simplicity Movement

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pp. 53-88

People in the voluntary simplicity movement are engaged in a struggle to define themselves as worthwhile and good people. Resisting participation in conspicuous consumption enables them to feel they are living in keeping with their ecological and social values. Some also reduce their participation in waged ...

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CHAPTER FOUR Gendered Visions of Process, Power, and Community in the Voluntary Simplicity Movement

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pp. 89-118

The primary sites of collective identity building and boundary setting for the voluntary simplicity movement are support groups, which are often called simplicity circles by people in the movement.1 Simplicity circles offer rich data about the interactions in the everyday lives of simple livers through which the collective ...

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CHAPTER FIVE Looking into the Shadows: The Politics of Class, Gender, and Race/Ethnicity in the Voluntary Simplicity Movement

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pp. 119-164

This chapter explores the class, racial/ethnic, and gender politics in the voluntary simplicity movement to gain understanding of how inequalities are resisted or reproduced through the movement and to assess the transformative capacity of the movement. The inequalities politics of the voluntary simplicity movement ...

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CHAPTER SIX New Tools and Old: Transformation and Reproduction in the Voluntary Simplicity Movement

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pp. 165-192

This chapter summarizes the findings in earlier chapters and extends the analysis to explore the “highest meanings” (Touraine 1981, 1983) of the voluntary simplicity cultural movement in terms of its possibilities and transformative capacity. I draw on the sociological analysis of the movement to point to avenues through which ...

Appendix: Selected Voluntary Simplicity Resources

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pp. 193-200

Notes

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pp. 201-208

Bibliography

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pp. 209-218

Index

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pp. 219-224


E-ISBN-13: 9780791485521
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791459997
Print-ISBN-10: 0791459993

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2004