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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.

English

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The Social Construction of Green Market Niches

This paper is about markets. Markets are the mechanisms that connect production chains. They are collectives of producers and determine the qualities of successful products. The paper analyzes the options for producers of "green" commodities vis-à-vis other producers, with whom they compete for the money of the customers. Actors who manage company rhetorics in order to endow products with specific and desirable qualities are seen as particularly important for the construction of specific market niches. However, they operate within constraints created by the politics of environmental organisations and the regulations enforced by government agencies. Seeing markets as the result of producer action is therefore likely to provide an incomplete picture. Another important feature faced by potential producers of “green” products is the quantity and quality of scientific and technical information that is required for legitimizing and advertising products as ‘green’. It is concluded that the rhetoric of “green markets” provides important leverage to movement organisations that confer credibility on “green” production and marketing and facilitate environmentally oriented political consumption while the effects of this activity on physical variables are indeterminate.

English

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