On March 21, 2013, the sociologist Andrew Abbott delivered a lecture at the London School of Economics called "Scarcity, Abundance, Excess: Towards a Social Theory of Too Much." The heart of that lecture:
It argues that since excess and overabundance are a central phenomena of modern life, we should refound social theory on the concept of "too much of" rather than "too little of." I trace the origin of the scarcity theories that dominate our reasoning, and sketch the outlines of a social theory based on excess.
The problem facing "modern life" (meaning, life in advanced capitalists societies—ACS), is not dealing with free time but finding strategies that deal with excess—reduction strategies, rescaling, adjustment and adaptation strategies, and so on. As for scarcity in ACSs? Abbott makes a great suggestion but fails to develop it in the right or best direction (you can watch his wrong line of thinking at the 24:00 mark):
Scarcity, Abbott states, happens on two levels: one is the individual level and the other is the social. The reason why this distinction is so important is because it clearly explains the political/ideological function of promoting individualism in ACSs. It is not so much about generalizing the values of the rich, who do not need social supports, public assistance, and so on; instead, it's about enforcing scarcity on poor subjects. If a society has an abundance of wealth and does not want to distribute it fairly, then it desperately needs the category of the individual—a single person on whom scarcity can be imposed. Poor countries do not need or depend on the culturally fabricated category of the individual because scarcity is real on both the level of the subject and the state. But because scarcity is nonexistent in rich countries, those in power, those who refuse to distribute wealth in a meaningful way, have to invent it. The invention of scarcity is linked with the promotion of the individual. The society is rich but you yourself are poor.