At the heart of developed societies today lies an insatiable drive for wealth and prosperity. Yet in a world ruled by free market economics, there are both winners and losers. The benefits enjoyed by the privileged few come at the expense of the many.
In this important new book, Stephan Lessenich shows how our wealth and affluence is built overwhelmingly at the expense of those in less developed countries and regions of the world. His theory of “externalisation” demonstrates how the negative consequences of our lifestyles are directly transferred onto the world’s poorest. From the destruction of habitats caused by the massive increase in demand for soy and palm oil to the catastrophic impact of mining, Lessenich shows how the global South has borne the brunt of our success. Yet as we see from the mass movements of people across the world, we can no longer ignore the environmental and social toll of our prosperity.
Lessenich’s highly original account of the structure and dynamics of global inequality highlights the devastating consequences of the affluent lifestyles of the West and reminds us of our far-reaching moral responsibilities in an increasingly interconnected world.
"A timely sociological explication of the meaning of globalization in the North, Living well at the expense of others."
Göran Therborn, University of Cambridge. Author of Cities of Power and of The Killing Fields of Inequality
“A disturbing evaluation of global inequality, both a sociological analysis and a moral plea. Lessenich points to an uncomfortable truth in reminding us that the wealth of the few is not merely the result of hard work or economic productivity, but rests decisively on their strategic position in the global economy.”
“Stephan Lessenich confronts us with a reality we would prefer to ignore, one that will either force us to change the way we live or weigh on our consciences if we don’t.”
“This book may make for troubling reading as it sweeps away our illusions, yet at the same time it provides much-needed clarity on key issues. One of the most important books this year.”
About the Author:
Stephan Lessenich is Professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany and former president of the German Sociological Association. He has held Guest Professorships at the Universities of Freiburg, Antwerp and St Gallen.