Consumer, citizen or …? Revisioning language for a partnership economy

We are excited to announce that Australia-based Caring Economy leader Sabrina Chakori has contributed a chapter in the new book Positive Steps to a Steady State Economy, edit. by Haydn Washington: Consumer, citizen or a new definition? The necessity to change both the term and our behaviour.

Sabrina questions the assumption that to be a consumer is responsible citizenship, and suggests that the challenge of this century is to reconceptualise our role in the economy. If people as consumers are primarily identified as economic entities, where does that leave culture, creativity, self-actualization and our capacity to evolve towards healthy and whole economic systems that embrace partnership values?

In this chapter, Sabrina discusses economic and ethical issues “linked with the corporate profit-seeking ideology that defines us simply as consumers, bolts of the economic growth machine, rather than people that have interests and responsibilities that go beyond utility maximization.”

Sabrina emphasizes “the necessity of a shift toward a partnership model that takes into account all beings, one that becomes the norm in our society. Eisler (2005) express two key aspects of the partnership model: the importance of empowering people, and of linking rather than ranking. Therefore, with these ingredients, we could achieve a systematic change that takes into account that society must operate within nature’s limits and that, the economy must serve (not dominate) society.”

She outlines positive steps towards systemic change that are mutually beneficial for the whole system, inclusive of human and environmental well-being. One of these steps is to develop new language identifying people as more than just consumers—we are residents seeking to live in a sustainable way that enables the entire earth to heal and flourish.

Thank you Sabrina for this great contribution to rethinking the definitions of people as consumers, the value of ‘human capital’ and the movement toward economic systems that work for all.

Download the e-book here:

Eisler, R. (2005) ‘From domination to partnership: Meeting the UN millennium goals’. Convergence, 38(3): 75-94.

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