Affluenza Book Summary - Affluenza Book explained in key points
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Affluenza summary

John de Graaf, David Wann and Thomas H. Naylor

How Overconsumption is Killing Us – and How to Fight Back

4.5 (30 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Affluenza by John de Graaf, David Wann and Thomas H. Naylor explores how consumerism has led to a society obsessed with material wealth and constant growth. It offers insight into the consequences of this culture and proposes alternatives for a more sustainable and fulfilling way of life.

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    Affluenza
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    Key idea 1 of 9

    The Post-Industrial increase in productivity has created an addiction to consumption.

    Imagine if the history of Earth was compressed into just seven days. How much time do you think human civilization would take up? Well, the development of agriculture would take two seconds. The Industrial Age – the last 200 or so years – would take just one hundredth of a second.

    In this brief blip since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve consumed more resources than all people in Pre-Industrial human history combined. Americans now spend 71 percent of their $15 trillion economy on consumer goods.

    This vast increase in consumption can mostly be attributed to technological advances. The Industrial Revolution dramatically increased our productivity: we can produce a great deal more, with a smaller workforce and lower costs.

    People used to think that this increase in productivity would allow us to be more relaxed and have more free time. In fact, in 1965, the United States Senate estimated that by the year 2000, the working week would only be 14–22 hours long.

    Instead, we’ve continued to work long hours, and some people work even more now thanks to laptops and mobile phones. Rather than enjoying society’s increase in production, we’ve become afflicted with affluenza.

    Affluenza is our addiction to consumption, and it’s taking over our lives. Nowadays, we spend most of our brief free time buying products or consuming them. Affluenza prevents us from giving proper attention to things that make us truly happy, like relationships or exercise, for example.

    The United States essentially reached a “happiness plateau” in 1957. Since then, the number of Americans who consider themselves “very happy” has steadily declined. People think consumption brings them joy, but affluenza is actually lowering our quality of life.

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    What is Affluenza about?

    This book is about our serious addiction to consumption: affluenza. Since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve become addicted to shopping, believing we can buy happiness. Affluenza affects us and our society like a disease, and this book offers advice on how we can immunize ourselves against it.

    Affluenza Review

    Affluenza (2001) explores the detrimental effects of consumerism on our well-being and offers insights on finding a more fulfilling and sustainable lifestyle. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Explores the concept of affluenza and its impact on our mental health and society, providing a thought-provoking perspective on our consumer-driven culture.
    • Offers practical solutions for breaking free from the cycle of materialism, allowing readers to pursue a more meaningful and balanced life.
    • Presents compelling evidence and compelling examples that illustrate the consequences of unchecked consumerism, making it a captivating and eye-opening read.

    Best quote from Affluenza

    Parents who spoil their children out of love should realize that they are performing acts of child abuse.

    —John de Graaf, David Wann and Thomas H. Naylor
    example alt text

    Who should read Affluenza?

    • Anyone interested in sociology
    • Anyone interested in media
    • Anyone interested in curing our addiction to consumption

    About the Author

    John de Graaf has won over a hundred awards for documentary film making and is cofounder of The Happiness Initiative. Environmentalist David Wann is president of the Sustainable Futures Society, and the author of ten books, including The New Normal. Thomas H. Naylor was professor emeritus of economics at Duke University, and a radical thinker who was consulted by governments and major corporations in over 30 countries.

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    Affluenza FAQs 

    What is the main message of Affluenza?

    The main message of Affluenza is that consumerism and materialism are detrimental to our well-being and the health of the planet.

    How long does it take to read Affluenza?

    The reading time for Affluenza varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Affluenza a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Affluenza is a thought-provoking book that sheds light on the negative impacts of consumerism. It's definitely worth reading if you're interested in the topic.

    Who is the author of Affluenza?

    The authors of Affluenza are John de Graaf, David Wann, and Thomas H. Naylor.

    What to read after Affluenza?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Affluenza, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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