Changeing Consumerism

· Hildur Boldt

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Kalevi Sorsa Foundation’s project, which began in the spring 2011, approaches the topic of consumerism from two perspectives: consumer activism and the impact on the social structure of society.

Citizens are divided to different groups based on their behavior as consumers and their capability to consume. Consumption is one of the key elements in creating and shaping identities. However, as consumer behaviour becomes the defining factor of a person, it is possible that the polarization of society increases.

According to Robert B. Reich citizens have gained more power as consumers and investors while their power on democratic arenas has declined.  The question of consumer activism and democracy is ambivalent. Boycotts and consumer campaigns can draw issues to the agenda and lead to changes quicker than democratic processes, which often seem slow and ineffective. However, consumer power depends directly on one’s economical resources. There is a risk that stressing consumer choice as a citizens’ means of power will decrease the democratic space. The project analyses the limitations of consumer activism but it also the opportunities it can bring about.

In addition to theoretical approaches, the project deals with consumer activism in practice by taking apart to a campaign that demands satisfactory working conditions for vineyard workers.

In the last part of the project the focus will be on food, seen as a human right and as an object of speculation, and it will take a closer look on corporate social responsibility and democracy.
For additional information, please contact
project coordinator Elisa Lipponen
Tel. +358 (0)40 1547 986

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