A call for a new political economy of attention: Mindfulness as a new commons

Peter Doran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Purpose - This chapter posits that we underestimate the way in which our immersion in the 'social logic' of capitalist consumption constrains our attempts to understand and respond to the ecological crises at both a personal and political level-and that both dimensions of our response are bound together. Methodology/approach-Survey of literature on psychology, wellbeing and mindfulness. Findings-How has the culture of capitalism-its psychic investment in colonizing our attention - compromised our ability to respond meaningfully to the challenges of sustainable development? In an acknowledgement of a certain closure around such themes within Western thought, I look to a point of exteriority in Peter Hershock's work, drawing on China's Chan Buddhist philosophy, for intimations of a worldview that challenges the West's over-commitment to forms of 'control' in favour of a cultivation of mindful and careful awareness-and an offering of unconditional attention. Social implications-Draws attention to a new phase of 'enclosure' in the cultural processes of capitalism. Originality/value of paper-Original introduction of a critical approach to mindfulness in the debate on well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationThe Art of Life in a World of Limits
PublisherEmerald Publishing
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9781783501366
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameAdvances in Sustainability and Environmental Justice
ISSN (Print)2051-5030

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Attention
  • Capitalism
  • Consumerism
  • Mindfulness
  • Political economy
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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