Consuming Ironies

Last Thursday, February 24th, in the Hart House Library on the University of Toronto campus, 100 students, academics, and activists gathered to celebrate the launch of Trevor Norris’s new book Consuming Schools: Commercialism and the End of Politics.

Gavin Fridell, the evening’s moderator and author of Fair Trade Coffee, started off the talk with a summary of the book, describing it as a “rigorous, timely book,” due to recent funding cuts and the resultant and ongoing privatization and commercialization of education.

Reading from his book’s introduction, Trevor Norris took the stage next with an overview of the shift from a worker to consumer society in the 20th century and the indicators of a consumer society, which is a difficult subject to tackle as the language of consumption prevents itself from being critiqued, according to Norris.

The evening progressed to an interview with Gavin Fridell and Trevor Norris, with Fridell playing devil’s advocate. A lively discussion about the new democratic family that emerges in the face of consumerism, the irony of consuming books on consumerism, and the politics of the left-wing in relation to consumerism, ensued.

With the conclusion of the interview, the floor was opened up to questions from the audience, which prompted discussions about the complex relationship between consumerism and innovation in the marketplace, the economic climate of China, and standard of living.

An evening of consumerism, consumers, and consumption, Trevor Norris provided the captive audience at Hart House with a great deal of food for thought on the status of our schools and society.

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