Political Consumerism: Its Motivations, Power, and Conditions in the Nordic Countries and Elsewhere

Proceedings from the 2nd International Seminar on Political Consumerism, Oslo August 26–29, 2004

image of Political Consumerism: Its Motivations, Power, and Conditions in the Nordic Countries and Elsewhere

The concept of political consumerism draws on the observation that consumer choice and the rising politics of products is an increasingly important form of political participation, especially with regard to such issues as human rights, animal rights, global solidarity and environmental responsibility. The 2nd International Seminar on Political Consumerism was arranged to enhance our knowledge about political consumerism. This report includes revised versions of the papers that were presented and discussed at the seminar. Scholars from various disciplines presented papers that discussed and analyzed such topics as the characteristics of (especially Nordic) political consumers and their motivations to express their political concerns through market channels, how consumer power and individual choice can be linked to public influence, political and market conditions for the success, effectiveness, or failure of political consumerism as a regulatory tool, and the framing, mobilization, and organizational processes behind political consumerism.



Articulating Ethics and Consumption

Debates about how to maintain a sense of morally responsible action often emphasize the problematic nature of caring at a distance, and take for granted particular kinds of moral self-hood in which responsibility is bound into notions of human agency that emphasise knowledge and recognition. Taking commodity consumption as a field in which the ethics, morality, and politics of responsibility has been problematized, we argue that existing research on consumption fails to register the full complexity of the practices, motivations and mechanisms through which the working up of moral selves is undertaken in relation to consumption practices. Rather than assuming that ethical decision-making works through the rational calculation of ethical obligations, we conceptualise the emergence of ethical consumption as ways in which everyday practical moral dispositions are re-articulated by the policies, campaigns and practices that enlist ordinary people into broader projects of social change. Ethical consumption, then, involves both a governing of consumption and a governing of the consuming self. We therefore argue for the importance of the growth of ethical consumption as a new terrain of political action, while also emphasising the grounds upon which ethical consumption can be opened up to normative critique.


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