Globalizing Responsibility: The Political Rationalities of Ethical Consumption

Globalizing Responsibility: The Political Rationalities of Ethical Consumption

Language: English

Pages: 248

ISBN: 1405145579

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Globalizing Responsibility: The Political Rationalities of Ethical Consumption presents an innovative reinterpretation of the forces that have shaped the remarkable growth of ethical consumption.

  • Develops a theoretically informed new approach to shape our understanding of the pragmatic nature of ethical action in consumption processes
  • Provides empirical research on everyday consumers, social networks, and campaigns
  • Fills a gap in research on the topic with its distinctive focus on fair trade consumption
  • Locates ethical consumption within a range of social theoretical debates -on neoliberalism, governmentality, and globalisation
  • Challenges the moralism of much of the analysis of ethical consumption, which sees it as a retreat from proper citizenly politics and an expression of individualised consumerism

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established in ethical consumer activism, and is exemplified in the case of fair trade by Traidcraft. Rather than seeking to change people’s opinions and preferences, Traidcraft seeks to extend people’s existing dispositions into new areas: STUART PALMER: We used to try and lead people to think and act in particular ways. Now we try and respond to people and provide outlets for their energy and commitments.6 9781405145589_4_006.indd 167 9/24/2010 4:40:17 PM 168 DOING CONSUMPTION DIFFERENTLY

actions. By liberating us from rules, c02.indd 30 9/24/2010 6:46:55 PM ETHICAL PROBLEMATIZATION OF ‘THE CONSUMER’ 31 under conditions of postmodernity of liquid modernity we are now exposed to all the burdens and torments that follow from knowing about the consequences of our actions. Responsibility thus emerges as the primary register through which action is undertaken. No longer subordinated to ethical codes, the morality of action now emerges from the rough and ready engagements of life

Chapter 6. There is a significant shift c02.indd 56 9/24/2010 6:46:57 PM ETHICAL PROBLEMATIZATION OF ‘THE CONSUMER’ 57 underway in how influential actors seeking to shape public policy debates are themselves rethinking the most effective ‘technologies’ for regulating individual consumer choice. Think-tanks and policy-oriented NGOs are increasingly recommending that governing consumption in more ‘ethical’ or ‘responsible’ or ‘sustainable’ ways requires more than simply hectoring consumers to

These interruptions cause people to reflect on their values and ‘the proper thing to do’. This draws them into the articulation of principles. Thus, whether people need principles or not, they certainly engage with them. (Smart and Neale 1997: 23) And, as we discuss in more detail in Chapter 5, this understanding of the folding together of tacit understanding and reflection in practices recommends a theoretical and methodological focus on narratives (Mattingly 1990). 3.5 Conclusion In this

critics and grand sociological theory. Our research is consistent with Miller’s (1998) argument that consumption is often embedded in networks of obligation, duty, sacrifice and love as well as in the ordinary, gendered work of social reproduction. Rather than aiming to be perfect ethical subjects, our participants displayed instead an aspiration to be ‘good enough’ moral subjects (see Smart and Neale 1997), assessing the demands placed upon them within the situated contexts of their everyday

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