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.



Swedish Political Consumers: Who they are and why they use the market as an arena for politics

This paper offers findings from a national representative postal survey (1,816 persons 15-85 years of age) conducted in Sweden that included several questions on political consumerism. Most of the questions were asked for the first time in the fall of 2003, thus making this survey one of the most comprehensive data sets on political consumerism in existence today. Political consumers are defined as people who state that they have boycotted products or deliberately chosen products for political, ethical, or environmental reasons in the past twelve months. The respondents were asked questions about their trust in and views on a variety of governmental institutions, civil society, and multinational corporations as well as the aspects that they consider as important when shopping for groceries and clothes/shoes. Significant findings are that Swedish political consumers are disproportionately women, highly educated, and come from wealthy households. An overwhelming number of sympathizers of the Green Party and Left Party are political consumers. The study shows that political consumers are more supportive of curbing the power of multinational corporations. They also give more consideration to other-regarding values (animal rights, the general working conditions in countries that manufacture our consumer goods, and child labor) when purchasing products. It is noteworthy that political consumers are more politically interested and active than non-political consumers. The study confirms that political consumers are concerned about risk society, and they are more critical about traditional governmental institutions.


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