Consumer Ethics Research: Reframing the Debate About Consumption for Good
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Consumer ethics is an underdeveloped specialism of business and marketing ethics, within which most publications have focused on bad rather than on good ethics, and on consumer dishonesty rather than on consumer idealism or consumer responsibility. This conceptual paper explores the latter perspective, and examines how we can seek to understand “consumer social responsibility” from perspectives such as consumer citizenship, political consumerism and consumer decision making. Much of the literature dealing with positive ethical dimensions of consumer behavior is limited to augmentations of conventional models of consumer behavior and the decisions rules that operate within them. This paper argues for the need to move beyond this to create a more radical, holistic and balanced approach to further developing the field that takes greater account of factors such as consumer life-style, moral intensity, and intention development. The paper also demonstrates the interconnectedness of consumer ethics and marketing ethics, and discusses and illustrates this by using the development of Fair Trade initiatives as an illustrative context. This is useful because Fair Trade products represent one of the more established market sectors that depends upon ethically orientated responses from consumers.
Originally published in the journal Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies (EJBO): http://ejbo.jyu.fi/archives/vol13_no1.html