Abington professor’s expertise draws attention from NBC News

ABINGTON, Pa. -- A Penn State Abington professor’s new book coupled with her extensive research and expertise on the ill effects of excessive consumerism drew the attention of NBC News.

Karen Halnon, associate professor of sociology, wrote "The Consumption of Inequality: Weapons of Mass Distraction," which contends that the fads, fashions, and media in pop culture frequently make recreational and ideological fun of poverty and lower class living. In her book, she delineates how it devalues the poor and minorities by promoting materialism and individual desires over the collective good and calls out the fashion industry and pop culture icons such as Honey Boo Boo.

The NBC News initiative "In Plain Sight: Poverty in America," recently interviewed Halnon as they examined the opposite side of the issue in “Living on $5,000 on Purpose: Meet America’s Intentional Poor.”

According to the story:
(There is) a long tradition of eschewing the American dream of a house with a white-picket fence, from 1920s hobos to 1960s hippies. Nowadays, groups going back-to-basics are just as diverse, such as live-off-the-land types…, punky street kids, and twentysomethings living in modest group homes known as intentional communities. But they all have something in common: They’ve chosen poverty.

For others, it’s a decision spurred by the recession and its exposure of economic precarity. Either way, it’s often a political choice, one that questions a consumerist, deeply stratified society. The intentional poor are “looking for something real that goes beyond commodity,” said Halnon.

To read and watch the complete report, go to http://nbcnews.to/1aCmVoq

Dr. Halnon has a wide range of research and teaching interests including inequality, capitalism and class; empire and imperialism; Central American studies; consumption; music scenes and subcultures; liberation theology; stigma; Marxist theory and postmodernist criticism.

For more information on Dr. Halnon and Abington faculty research and publications, go to http://www.abington.psu.edu/academics/faculty

Last Updated October 23, 2013