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Robert Rochefort

The Good Consumer and the Bad Citizen

In this book, the author describes and tries to resolve the paradox of the citizen-consumer which lies at the heart of current discussions on social issues. He argues that our consumer society drives individuals to behave in ways that as citizens they find reprehensible. They will, for example, seek out the lowest discount price, knowing that this will harm the job market since it will lead producers to delocalise in order to lower prices. Robert Rochefort shows that this paradox results, in part, from the triumph of the consumer society which has turned consumption into the single most important value in our society and, in part, from the confusion around the notion of what it means to be a citizen, as can be seen from the high rate of voter abstention. Finally, the author examines what he calls the Four R's (Reassurance, Reliance, Resilience and Responsibility), which he believes will resolve the paradox of the citizen-consumer. He argues that it is through the reconstruction of social solidarity that individuals will be able to project themselves into the future and accept their responsibilities on a planetary scale. Rochefort examines an issue that makes many people feel deeply divided: How can we reconcile our roles as consumers and citizens? He replies to this question by providing cogent arguments for the creation of a social pact that will turn consumers into responsible world citizens. Robert Rochefort is the author of La Société des consommateurs, Vive le papy-boom, Le Consommateur entrepreneur and La France déboussolée, all published by Editions Odile Jacob. He is the director of the Centre de Recherches pour l'étude et l'Observation des Conditions de Vie (CREDOC) and a member of the French Prime Minister's Council for Economic Analyses.