Seismic Shifts, Consumerism & Citizenship
Our world is at a crossroads. The global ecosystem is being wrecked by the depredation of increasingly needless consumption and economic growth. World population is growing in volume and inequality, just as food becomes scarcer and more expensive due to a host of man-made ecological disasters. Addicted as we are to fossil fuels, we have now to confront the reality of peak oil. We have soiled and despoiled enough. Society needs to change fast or condemn those who come after us to a dying planet.
How do such catalysts change Consumerism, economics and the relationship between Citizens, brands, companies and politics? What are the wider implications for the way that they communicate with each other? And what does this mean for Communications as a discipline? We live now in a post-Inconvenient Truth world, and we increasingly accept that the traditional Corporate-Consumer model of Capitalism will no longer work within our needs and the means of our planet.
Climate Change, the Wellbeing Imperative and the emergence of a Digital Democracy have collided to generate a profound socio-cultural shift
We contend that three seismic shifts – The Perfect Storm surrounding Climate Change; the inevitable rise of lower-consumption economics and the Wellbeing Imperative; and the emergence of a truly global Digital Democracy – have now collided to generate a profound socio-cultural shift.
The reverberations from this shift are only just now beginning to be felt. We are sensing a return to Citizen, rather than Consumer, values – proof positive that it is Citizenship, not Consumerism, that is the more enduring ethos. In short, we are sensing a Citizen Renaissance.
This new generation of Citizens will demand that we all live within our means if we are to save our planet and ourselves. They will be not only accepting of the principles of lower consumption economics, they will most likely be passionate advocates. Fuelled by the power, accessibility and immediacy of the web, they will insist on new levels of transparency and authenticity and will hold Governments, Corporations and Brands (and each other) to account. This has profound implications for us all. The Socratic Method of Enquiry – borne in the ancient City States – reaches new heights in today’s world. The questions come more rapidly. The conversation is bigger, more compelling – and more urgent.