Consumer identity and moral obligations in non-plastic bag consumption: a dialectical perspective
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According to many, we live in an era of autonomy, choice, enterprise and lifestyles. Consumers are active agents who exercise informed and autonomous responsibilities in relation to their values and concerns. This language shows the act of ethical consumption as a personal choice arising from individual concerns. In contrast to this liberal view, the conservatives claim that consumers need to obey prescriptive and proscriptive set of ethical norms in order to consume ethically. This study takes on a third approach and considers consumers both as subjects of moral obligations (the conservative view) and as actors of their life (the liberal view). The analysis of nine existential phenomenological interviews performed on consumers who use environmentally friendly bags for their grocery shopping shows how both liberal and conservative views are co-productive in the development of ethical consumerism. The dialectical interplay between social norms and self-identity evolves through time and context across five main components: community of meaning and support, emotional affiliation, localized access to political discourses, personalization of the practice and identity formation. All five elements are intertwined around the use of a symbolic possession at the level of local and mundane microsocial encounters.
International Journal of Consumer Studies
© 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Consumer identity and moral obligations in non-plastic bag consumption: a dialectical perspective, International Journal of Consumer Studies, Vol. 30(5), 2006, pp. 515-523, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2006.00531.x.
Consumer-Oriented Product or Service Development