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Postcards from Scotland

Glasgow: Well-being, materialism and the values of consumer capitalism

Monday, 12th December 4.30 - 6.30 pm  

The Parish Hall, 266 George Street, Glasgow

Glasgow was once the workshop of the world but is now famous for its shops and its 'style mile'.  But is this branding of the city as 'Scotland with style' good for the well-being of its citizens?

This is a very pertinent question given that Glasgow's health is poor in comparison with equivalent deindustrialised cities such as Manchester and Liverpool.

This free late afternoon/early evening event did not evaluate whether the focus on shopping has been good for the city's economy: rather it considered the ways in which consumerism and the pursuit of materialist values undermine well-being and perhaps help us to understand some of the ill effects of Glasgow's culture.

The keynote speaker at this event was Professor Tim Kasser from Knox College, Illinois. Tim Kasser is a psychologist and the author of The High Price of Materialism. He has written numerous research papers documenting how the pursuit of materialist values – appearance; money and what it can buy; and status/fame/popularity – undermine well-being partly by distracting from the things which really do enhance well-being.  Professor Kasser looked at the alternatives to materialist values and how these might be encouraged within a city context.

We also heard short contributions  from two additional speakers. Firstly, from Professor Phil Hanlon who set out the nature of Glasgow's particular health challenges and whether he thinks that materialist values  may play a part. Professor Ewan Macdonald made the other short contribution and informed the audience on the importance of work to well-being and the type of work which is particularly beneficial.

Dr Carol Craig, the Centre's Chief Executive and the author of The Tears that Made the Clyde chaired the event.


4.00 – 4.30 Registration, refreshments and networking
4.30 – 4.40 Welcome from the Chair and some historical background
4.40 -  4.50 Glasgow's health challenges – Professor Phil Hanlon
4.50 – 5.40 Well-being, materialism, and the values of consumer capitalism: A view from the psychological literature - Professor Tim Kasser:
5.40 – 6.00 Discussion
6.00 -  6.10 The importance and role of work for well-being - Professor Ewan Macdonald
6. 10 – 6.20  Discussion
6.20 – 6.30  Final reflection from the speakers and close

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