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International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Published by Michigan State University

Official publication of the Research Committee on Sociology of Agriculture and Food (RC-40)
of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

Editors: Raymond Jussaume, Claire Marris and Katerina Psarikidou

Frequency: 3 issues per year 
ISSN: 0798-1759

Volume 22 Issue 1 (2015)

Download entire Issue  as one PDF

Food-based Activities versus Material Possessions: Alternatives to Consumption                                               1-21

Authors: Robin R. Wikoff and Madeleine E. Pullman

Abstract            PDF

We examine how food-related experiential activities offer different types of intrinsic pleasures, create an alternative path to consumerism, and subsequently affect happiness and well-being. Participant’s perspectives on these activities are compared to those of their favourite material possessions to explore the differences in meaning and motivations. Phenomenological interviews centred on food activities and material possessions revealed that experiential food-related hobbies are valued highly and a source of great life satisfaction because of meeting a variety of psychological needs. These activities offer an alternative conception of what it is to flourish and to enjoy a ‘high’ standard of living as they were found to be mostly intrinsically motivated. Many material possessions also suggested intrinsic aspirations while others showed a mix of both intrinsic and extrinsic aspects. The data reveal that the need for adopting extrinsic life aspirations is not strongly expressed when food-related experiential activities, such as food growing and preparation, are a part of regular life. These food-based activities and certain types of material possessions with intrinsic values encourage a more ecologically sustainable use of resources and reduce social and environmental exploitation associated with consumerism. This research contributes to new modes of thinking about happiness and well-being by supporting the ‘alternative hedonism’ concept as remedy to consumerism.

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