Title

Questioning the Consumer Culture: A Qualitative Study on Voluntary Simplicity

Date of Award

8-1-2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling Psychology & Community Services

Abstract

This qualitative study documents an understanding of the experiences of people who have adopted a voluntary simple lifestyle. Included in this analysis is the meaning of voluntary simplicity to those who have chosen this lifestyle and their values motivating them to adopt such a lifestyle. Specifically, questions were asked regarding participants’ meaning of voluntary simplicity, values and beliefs that motivate living such a lifestyle, how the participants maintain this lifestyle, and the role their possessions play in their life. Twelve participants were interviewed through telephone correspondence. Participants were recruited through online voluntary simple networks namely, A Center for a New American Dream and The Compact.

The data analysis of these interviews follows the methodology of consensual qualitative research (CQR). In accordance with CQR, the data was analyzed by following three general steps of (a) creating domains for each participant’s response, (b) identifying core ideas from the participant’s responses, and (c) identifying core ideas from a crossanalysis between participants’ responses. Three primary themes of the environment, relationship with others, and personal benefits emerged from the data. The main implications of this study are that voluntary simplicity appears to be a viable outlet for promoting subjective well being.

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