Summary of Against Thrift

Why Consumer Culture Is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul

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Against Thrift book summary
Frugality is the path to prosperity, right? Not so fast – if you want to prosper, shop.


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Talk about taking the contrarian view! In his book, history professor James Livingston revels in debunking what he considers misguided examples of common sense. Frugality is the path to prosperity, right? Wrong, Livingston argues; thrift is a surefire way to anemic growth and a concentration of wealth. And isn’t advertising an anti-intellectual tool of greed and conformity? Nope; ads are powerful forces for morality and freedom, he says. Livingston is so incessantly ornery in this essay that the reader is tempted to wonder if he really believes all his arguments. Yet he manages to produce a thought-provoking, though sometimes dense, read that raises a number of worthy questions about conventional wisdom. getAbstract recommends this analysis to readers who enjoy a skeptical perspective on economic theory.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why the conventional wisdom about frugality is wrong and
  • How advertising and consumerism are forces for good.


Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong
Americans take it on faith that the 2008 economic crisis offered a valuable lesson in the folly of overconsumption. They’ve been led to believe that they lost their minds and their morals. They spent too much and saved too little, and now they’re fixing their...
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About the Author

James Livingston, a professor of history at Rutgers University, is the author of four previous books on economics and culture.

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