Most helpful positive review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2003
Tim Kasser's subject in this book is the relationship between materialist values and psychological well-being. He and his colleagues have done a significant amount of work to identify links between materialism and a host of social evils, including the breakdown of the American family, our culture's lack of concern for the environment, and declining social consciousness. Some elements of the argument are weakened by the fact that psychologists have been studying the subject for a comparatively short time, and relevant studies are few; however, Kasser admits this failing when it is relevant, and support for the most important aspects of his theory is significant.
The most interesting part of the book is the final chapter, "Making Change", which discusses strategies for changing our values. In this chapter, Kasser notes the danger in assuming capitalism and the market economy are ideal. He points to experiments in the United States and throughout the world where economies have developed which emphasize small businesses and local economies (Ithaca, NY, for example), which value each person's time equally (i.e., an hour of legal services is not valued more highly than an hour of a gardener's time), and so forth. Naturally there are barriers to some of his suggestions, but there is little hope of effecting change without adopting at least some of the strategies mentioned.
All in all, this is an important book for our times. Television and mass-market culture won't save you: pick up this book!