The nature of global development has changed substantially over the past three decades in step with the intensified globalisation of capitalism and its imperatives of growth and expanding consumption. Most significant is the ongoing shift in the balance of the global economy towards the South in general and the East in particular. As the ‘Rise of the South’ materialises, a number of emerging economies are moving beyond their roles as factories of the world and are turning their focus towards expanding domestic markets. The emergence of high-consuming middle classes in these countries represents a profound challenge for global sustainability. When coupled with the as-yet unsuccessful efforts to constrain the consumption in the mature capitalist countries, rising global consumption constitutes one of the greatest challenges to sustainable development. Neither development theory nor sustainability policy has adequately acknowledged surging global consumption. How do we best understand the changes behind the dramatic increase in consumption? Drawing on social practice theory as well as the political economy of capitalist development, this article analyses the social and environmental dimensions of increasing consumption in the South, using India and Vietnam as case studies.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Forum for Development Studies on 20 Jan 2016, available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08039410.2015.1134640