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Voluntary simplifiers as political consumers: Individuals practicing politics through reduced consumption

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Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


This article seeks to contribute to the discourse on the politicization of voluntary simplifiers’ consumption patterns. Some scholars argue that voluntary simplifiers’ consumption practices are individualistic and escapist in nature, and therefore cannot be defined as political, and that they are likely to become such only if they organize for collective action. Conversely, we argue that voluntary simplifiers’ lifestyle is an individual political choice that should be analyzed using theories of political consumption. This article, based on interviews with voluntary simplifiers in Israel, identifies four characteristics of voluntary simplifiers that attest to their political nature: (1) multidimensional political discourse, (2) embracement of a holistic and uncompromising lifestyle of simplicity, (3) lifestyle changes as ongoing political process, and (4) the desire to exert influence. We therefore argue that voluntary simplifiers are not only political, but they represent a clear-cut instance of noninstitutionalized political activity realized through individual practices in the private realm.