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Consumer perceptions of the commodification and related conservation of traditional indigenous Naxi forest products as credence goods (China)

Rokpelnis, Karlis, Ho, Peter, Cheng, Gong and Zhao, Heng (2018) Consumer perceptions of the commodification and related conservation of traditional indigenous Naxi forest products as credence goods (China). Sustainability, 10 (10). ISSN 2071-1050

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Identification Number: 10.3390/su10103801


Commodification of Traditional Knowledge (TK) has been posited as a possible, although contested, alternative for the conservation of indigenous resources. Here we examine the case of the Chinese Naxi minority, with particular reference to the practice of sacred “Dongba” papermaking. The commodification of TK is a complex process with many pitfalls and trade-offs between the environment, economy, and social empowerment. In the process of commodification, consumers have arisen as an important force in environmental politics. To date, little is known about the way domestic tourists, the main consumer base of indigenous products, perceive Dongba paper. In this context, we examined their knowledge of Naxi culture, their willingness to pay for sustainably produced paper, and their perceptions of the product’s authenticity. This socio-economic study is based on a survey (n = 415) in rural Southwest China. We found a significant potential to market Dongba paper as a sustainable indigenous product. Although knowledge about Naxi culture was circumscribed (3% could identify the plant used for papermaking), the majority of respondents (55%) was willing to pay for TK protection. Respondents also preferred third-party labelling. We posit that TK products could be seen as credence goods, necessitating certification to ensure product authenticity and establish consumer trust. Markedly, the survey also found that attitudes as to who should provide third-party assurance are contradictory. The Chinese government was preferred as the strongest assurance of genuineness, but paradoxically, commanded the least trust in its ability to manage and fund the conservation of TK.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Authors
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Departments > International Development
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2019 10:02
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2021 00:44

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