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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.

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Sustainable Consumption and Global Citizenship: An empirical analysis

The issue of sustainable consumption has over the past decade garnered an increasing amount of international attention and affluent countries have begun to formulate policy programs to address the impacts of environmentally significant forms of material provisioning. The primary approaches advanced thus far to address the connections between consumerism and the environment have focused on familiar strategies such as ecological taxation and labeling requirements. More recently, there are indications that these rational interventions are severely limited in their ability to stimulate meaningful changes in consumer behavior and that more socially and culturally nuanced understandings are necessary. Using a cross-national data set (the Luxembourg Income Study comprised of the so-called G-20), this analysis seeks to highlight the comparative role of two preconditioning dimensions of sustainable consumption: a country’s relative degree of income equality and its political solidarity with developing countries. On the basis of these variables, Norway, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden appear to be unique in their ability to forge a path toward more sustainable consumption. Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and France also have some capacity for pursuing this policy program, but will encounter some strenuous political obstacles. The ten remaining G-20 countries (Spain, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, and New Zealand) are poorly prepared to support an agenda designed to promote more sustainable consumption.

English

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