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The civic identity of the ethical consumer

Roberts, Jonathan ORCID: 0000-0003-4827-867X and Chandra, Gauri (2024) The civic identity of the ethical consumer. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. ISSN 0957-8765

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11266-024-00650-x


Ethical consumerism describes market transactions where consumers’ preferences stretch beyond immediate self-interest to prosocial objectives. How such activities relate to more traditional forms of civic engagement (such as giving or activism) remains unclear; as a market-situated activity, ethical consumerism is often omitted from accounts of civic engagement or predicted to erode commitment to civic action. This paper reports findings from an empirical study of the civic identity of the ethical consumer. Using an online survey instrument, the study explores statistical relationships between individuals’ actual participation in ethical consumerism at three sites (Fairtrade, TOMS Shoes and (RED)) and the extent of individuals’ wider civic engagement—both philanthropic (giving, volunteering) and activist (campaigning). It finds evidence of a consistent civic identity that stretches across traditional civic engagement activities and ethical consumerism: the greater an individual’s civic engagement, the more likely they are to engage in ethical consumerism. The current analytic separation of ethical consumerism and civic engagement, therefore, does not capture the experience of individuals who are expanding their prosocial repertoire from the civic sphere to the market sphere; civic engagement cuts across sectors.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s)
Divisions: Marshall Ins for Philanthropy & Soc Entr
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2024 09:18
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2024 04:18

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