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.



Private Food Strategies and Political Consumerism

A number of policy instruments are used in order to provide consumers healthy products produced in a proper way as regards environmental impacts. The policy instruments are mainly directed to enterprises and companies producing products. Such actors are often addressed in terms of laws or regulations and represent different actors in a production chain. Policy instruments and the way they are used in Product Policy Chains will be discussed theoretically and from empirical examples. The government often uses a vertical policy chain in the communication process with actors in the process. Consumers, the end users, are often addressed by informational instruments, e.g. pamphlets, campaigns, content declarations or labelling. However, consumers’ reliance in food products can vary for several reasons. They may dislike the price, the quality, the labelling process and organisation or the food products for ethical reasons. Consumer power can be activated for some or several of these reasons. Two types of consumer power will be discussed and analysed namely the individualised power of consumers, e.g. buying resistance, and secondly the collectivistic power of consumers, relying on an ideology, which can be ethical, e.g. animals rights movements. Consumer power and influence can be performed on a local, national or global level. Consumer strategies in purchasing behaviour and influencing the market will be analysed concerning reliance on products, use of information and labelling. This is a pilot study aimed at formulating a frame of concepts to be used in analysis of consumer power and political consumerism. Statistical databases and a number of in-depth interviews with environmentally concerned consumers, vegans and vegetarians is used as an empirical base.


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