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Consumerism as a moral attitude: Defining consumerism through the works of Pope Francis, Cornel West, and William T. Cavanaugh

Journal article
Authors Fredrik Portin
Published in Studia Theologica - Nordic Journal of Theology
Volume 74
Issue 1
Pages 4-24
ISSN 0039-338X
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Pages 4-24
Language en
Subject categories Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


In this theoretical and explorative essay, from an analysis of Pope Francis’, Cornel West's, and William T. Cavanaugh's works, it is argued that it is possible to construe a specific understanding of the concept of consumerism within the political theological discourse. From the analysis, consumerism is imagined as a fundamental attitude of remaining morally indifferent towards suffering. Accordingly, the proposed definition for consumerism is understood as the act of trivializing the good and remaining indifferent towards suffering. Furthermore, the article highlights how this definition of consumerism challenges the idea of consumerism as an “ersatz” religion, which is an understanding of consumerism that is often used within a Christian theological context. © 2020, © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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