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"The price of anything is the life you exchange for it" : a study on voluntary simplicity within the United States

Lang, Tyler LU (2017) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20171
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
American consumption based lifestyles have a grave impact on the environment and personal wellbeing of Americans, creating unhealthy consumption patterns, unforeseen negative effects on individuals, and ultimately unsustainable lifestyles overall. Voluntary simplicity (VS), or individuals who resist consumerist tendencies seeking a higher quality of life through simplicity, is an answer to these concerns by promoting low consumption lifestyles, independence, and resilience among individuals and their lifestyles. This thesis considered VS within the specific cultural context of the United States, utilizing mixed methods in order to obtain an understanding of the cultural context of the United States, the VS movement, and both US and non US... (More)
American consumption based lifestyles have a grave impact on the environment and personal wellbeing of Americans, creating unhealthy consumption patterns, unforeseen negative effects on individuals, and ultimately unsustainable lifestyles overall. Voluntary simplicity (VS), or individuals who resist consumerist tendencies seeking a higher quality of life through simplicity, is an answer to these concerns by promoting low consumption lifestyles, independence, and resilience among individuals and their lifestyles. This thesis considered VS within the specific cultural context of the United States, utilizing mixed methods in order to obtain an understanding of the cultural context of the United States, the VS movement, and both US and non US simplifiers. This research assessed how the VS movement interacts with modern America through the application of the lens of modernity to both America in general and then VS. This thesis then utilized surveys to obtain information on the ranked intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, as well as the extrinsic barriers that both compel and repel both potential American simplifiers and non-American simplifiers from making this type of lifestyle transition. These motivations are structured within self-determination theory and the spectrum of motivation that it offers. A comparison was then made between the motivation of US and non-US citizens in order to ascertain the unique characteristics of American simplifiers. The results of the research showed that American modernity is current characterized with emphasis on the individual over the collective, and wealth or success as being the defining metrics for success. The VS community departs from that project of modernity through emphasizing different metrics of success, seeking different concepts of individual identity instead of purchased identity, and restructuring consumerist behavior to prioritize utility consumption over status consumption. The surveys showed that autonomy and heath are prime motivators both intrinsically and extrinsically within both US and non US simplifiers. The comparison between US and non US simplifiers showed more of an emphasis on autonomy in the US citizens than the non US, and a lack of emphasis on the community building motivations within both groups. The thesis concluded with a discussion on the implications of these motivations, the lack of communal desire by simplifiers, assessing whether or not VS individuals are the agents of change needed within the US on sustainability, the sustainability implications of VS, and the methods in which VS lifestyles can be promoted, primarily through the promotion of extrinsic benefits and the removal of extrinsic barriers. (Less)
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author
Lang, Tyler LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
alternative lifestyles, modernity, voluntary simplicity, off the grid, motivations, United States, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2017:019
language
English
id
8913798
date added to LUP
2017-06-18 16:14:16
date last changed
2017-06-18 16:14:16
@misc{8913798,
  abstract     = {American consumption based lifestyles have a grave impact on the environment and personal wellbeing of Americans, creating unhealthy consumption patterns, unforeseen negative effects on individuals, and ultimately unsustainable lifestyles overall. Voluntary simplicity (VS), or individuals who resist consumerist tendencies seeking a higher quality of life through simplicity, is an answer to these concerns by promoting low consumption lifestyles, independence, and resilience among individuals and their lifestyles. This thesis considered VS within the specific cultural context of the United States, utilizing mixed methods in order to obtain an understanding of the cultural context of the United States, the VS movement, and both US and non US simplifiers. This research assessed how the VS movement interacts with modern America through the application of the lens of modernity to both America in general and then VS. This thesis then utilized surveys to obtain information on the ranked intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, as well as the extrinsic barriers that both compel and repel both potential American simplifiers and non-American simplifiers from making this type of lifestyle transition. These motivations are structured within self-determination theory and the spectrum of motivation that it offers. A comparison was then made between the motivation of US and non-US citizens in order to ascertain the unique characteristics of American simplifiers. The results of the research showed that American modernity is current characterized with emphasis on the individual over the collective, and wealth or success as being the defining metrics for success. The VS community departs from that project of modernity through emphasizing different metrics of success, seeking different concepts of individual identity instead of purchased identity, and restructuring consumerist behavior to prioritize utility consumption over status consumption. The surveys showed that autonomy and heath are prime motivators both intrinsically and extrinsically within both US and non US simplifiers. The comparison between US and non US simplifiers showed more of an emphasis on autonomy in the US citizens than the non US, and a lack of emphasis on the community building motivations within both groups. The thesis concluded with a discussion on the implications of these motivations, the lack of communal desire by simplifiers, assessing whether or not VS individuals are the agents of change needed within the US on sustainability, the sustainability implications of VS, and the methods in which VS lifestyles can be promoted, primarily through the promotion of extrinsic benefits and the removal of extrinsic barriers.},
  author       = {Lang, Tyler},
  keyword      = {alternative lifestyles,modernity,voluntary simplicity,off the grid,motivations,United States,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {"The price of anything is the life you exchange for it" : a study on voluntary simplicity within the United States},
  year         = {2017},
}