Findings4   Findings:    The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption                                                   ...
2                      Findings:                                                                                          ...
2                      Findings:                                                                                          ...
Findings4   Findings:    The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption                                                   ...
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Ethical consumption

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Ethical consumption

  1. 1. Findings4 Findings: The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption: doing politics in an ethical register Nick Clarke, University of Southampton and Dr Alice the Bristol Fairtrade City Campaign’, International Project team: In debates about climate change, human rights, sustainability, and public Malpass, University of Bristol. Journal of Urban and Regional Research (Forthcoming, Clive Barnett 2008). Paul Cloke health, patterns of everyday consumption are identified as a problem requiring PUBLICATIONS INCLUDE Nick Clarke consumers to change their behaviour through the exercise of responsible Alice Malpass Barnett C., Cafaro P. and Newholm T. ‘Philosophy and CONTACT choice. This project explores the contemporary problematization of consump- Ethical Consumption’, in Harrison R., Newholm T. Dr Clive Barnett tion and consumer choice. We investigated the institutional, organisational and and Shaw D.(eds.) The Ethical Consumer (London: Faculty of Social Sciences Sage, 2005). The Open University social dynamics behind the growth in ethical consumption practices in the UK, Barnett C., Clarke N., Cloke P. and Malpass A. ‘The Political Walton Hall focussing in particular on a series of initiatives around fair trade and global Ethics of Consumerism’, Consumer Policy Review Milton Keynes trade justice. Ethical consumption is best understood as a political phenomenon 15(2)(2005), pp. 45–51. MK7 6AA Barnett C., Cloke P., Clarke N. and Malpass A. telephone rather than simply a market response to changes in consumer demand. It ‘Consuming Ethics: Articulating the Subjects and +44 (0)1908 659 700 reflects strategies and organisational forms amongst a diverse range of Spaces of Ethical Consumption’, Antipode 37(1) email governmental and non-governmental actors. It is indicative of distinctive (2005), pp. 23–45. c.barnett@open.ac.uk Clarke N., Barnett C., Cloke P and Malpass A. ‘Globalising project website forms of political mobilisation and representation. And it provides ordinary the Consumer: Doing Politics in an Ethical Register’, http://www.open.ac.uk/socialsciences/research/ people with pathways into wider networks of collective action, ones which seek Political Geography 26(3)(2007), pp. 231–249. spaces-of-ethical-consumption.php to link the mundane spaces of everyday life into campaigns for global justice. Malpass A., Barnett C., Clarke N. and Cloke P. ‘Governance, Consumers, and Citizens: Agency and Resistance in KEY FINDINGS consumerism as an alternative to other forms of Contemporary Politics’, in Bevir M. and Trentmann F. q People bring a range of ethical concerns to their civic involvement or public participation. Ethical (eds.).(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, in press 2007). everyday consumption practices. These range from the consumerism can provide pathways into involvement Malpass A., Cloke P., Barnett C. and Clarke N. ‘Fairtrade personal responsibilities of family life to more public in broader political campaigns. Urbanism: The Politics of Place Beyond Place in commitments such as membership of particular faith communities, political groups, and professional HIGHLIGHTS communities. Globalising the consumer CULTURES OF CONSUMPTION q Ethical consumption campaigns problematize Consumerism is often held to be inimical to collective RESEARCH PROGRAMME everyday practices of consumption by shaping the deliberation and decision-making of the sort required terms of public debate and by getting people to reflect to address pressing environmental, humanitarian and The Cultures of Consumption Programme q to understand the practice, For further details take a look at our website on the relationship between ‘choice’ and ‘responsibility’ global justice issues. Policy interventions and academic funds research on the changing nature ethics and knowledge of www.consume.bbk.ac.uk in everyday consumption routines. discourse alike often assume that transforming of consumption in a global context. consumption q People respond critically and sceptically to demands consumption practices requires interventions that or contact The Programme investigates the different that they should take personal responsibility for various address people as consumers. This research project q to assess the changing Professor Frank Trentmann forms, development and consequences of relationship between Programme director ‘global’ problems by changing their everyday consump- shows that this connection between consumption and consumption, past and present. Research consumption and citizenship telephone +44 (0)20 7079 0603 tion practices. consumers is a contingent achievement of strategically projects cover a wide range of subjects, email esrcConsumepd@bbk.ac.uk q The capacity of citizens to actively contribute to motivated actors with specific objectives in the public from UK public services to drugs in east q to explain the shifting local, Africa, London’s fashionable West End to metropolitan and transnational or concerted action to transform consumption practices realm. Focussing on the discursive interventions used global consumer politics. The £5 million boundaries of cultures of Stefanie Nixon is socially di◊erentiated by both material resources in ethical consumption campaigns, the research found Cultures of Consumption Programme consumption Programme administrator and cultural capital: by income levels, residential that that these are not primarily aimed at encouraging is the first to bring together experts from Cultures of Consumption q to explore consumption in the location, and personal mobility, and by involvement generic consumers to recognise themselves for the first the social sciences and the arts and Research Programme domestic sphere in social networks and associational practices. time as ‘ethical’ consumers. Rather, they aim to provide humanities. It is co-funded by the ESRC Birkbeck College and the AHRC. q to investigate alternative and Malet Street q Ethical consumption initiatives are successful when information to people already disposed to support or sustainable consumption London WC1 7HX E they succeed in enabling changes in practical routines sympathise with certain causes; information that The aims of the Cultures of Consumption telephone +44 (0)20 7079 0601 of consumption. This might include changes at the level enables them to extend their concerns and commitments Programme are: q to develop an interface facsimile +44 (0)20 7079 0602 between cutting edge academic of domestic practices or changes at the level of whole into everyday consumption practices. These acts of email esrcConsume@bbk.ac.uk research and public debate. systems of urban infrastructure. consumption are in turn counted, reported, surveyed q There is little evidence that people adopt ethical and represented in the public realm by organisations
  2. 2. 2 Findings: 3 Findings: The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical ConsumptionRight: Regina Joseph,Shoppers in the a banana growerBishopston area from the Windwardof Bristol are Islands, helps celebrate Bristolspoilt for ‘ethical’ becoming Fairtradeconsumer choice, City in March 2005.while those in Photo: BristolHartcli◊e live in Fairtrade Networka veritable ‘fooddesert’Below:Responsibleconsumption ina Bristol suburbPhotos: Jon Tooby who speak for the ‘ethical consumer’. These campaigns The predominant storyline in circulates as a term of public debate only in and through employees, residents and visitors became fairtrade also provide supporters and sympathisers with storylines. The predominant storyline re-inscribes popular discours- es of globalisation into a narrative in which people are ‘ ethical consumption campaigns re-inscribes popular discourses this register of responsibility for the self and for others. These campaigns seek to problematize the consequences of everyday consumption by encouraging people to consumers, knowingly or unknowingly, when visiting the canteens and restaurants of the local authority and other significant organisations in the city. ascribed various responsibilities by virtue of their reflect, deliberate, and discuss the ‘ethical’ dilemmas of activities as consumers but also empowered to act of globalisation into a narrative their routine practices. In turn, people negotiate these MESSAGES FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE ethically and politically in and through these activities. demands for them to take personal responsibility by The ‘consumer’ is NOT the key agent of change in e◊orts in which people are ascribed deploying the vocabularies of citizenship to delineate to change consumption practices! Problematizing choice various responsibilities by virtue the scope of their own actions they consider it possible q Ethical consumption campaigning is most e◊ective in Far from ‘choice’ being straightforwardly championed and and legitimate to change. transforming policies and infrastructures of collective promoted, it is increasingly circulated as a term in policy of their activities as consumers provision, rather than changing individual behaviour discourse and public debate by being problematized. but also empowered to act Fairtrade urbanism through the provision of information. How to ensure that the choices of putatively free Understandings of ethical consumption often assume q Ethical consumption campaigns do not seek to engage individuals are exercised responsibly – in terms both ethically and politically in and a relationship between placeless western consumers ‘consumers’, understood as abstract, self-interested of those individuals’ own good and the good of broader through these activities and place-specific producers in the third world. Using utility maximizers. They engage members of communities communities – has become a recurrent theme of concern. For example, ‘choice’ is problematized in terms of the potential of increased individual choice to conflict with ’ an ethnographic study of the Bristol Fairtrade City Campaign in 2004–2005, this research project shows how fairtrade consumption is aligned with place-based of practice, for example, members of faith groups, schoolchildren, or residents of distinctive localities. public interest goals of sustainability and conservation; interests and identities. The Fairtrade City Campaign BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY in terms of increased choice leading to greater anxiety became a vehicle for enlisting the ordinary people of The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption was and reduced quality of life, even reduced levels of Bristol into awareness of and identification with fairtrade funded by the ESRC /AHRC Cultures of Consumption happiness; or in terms of the limitations of choice in issues. Citizens of Bristol were enrolled into re-imagining research programme and ran from October 2003 to increasing or maintaining equity in social provision and the expansive scope of the city’s responsibilities. Through October 2006 (grant number: RES–143–25–0022–A). access to public services. Ethical consumption campaigns the introduction of fairtrade procurement practices in The project team consisted of Dr Clive Barnett, The Open are actively contributing to this process whereby ‘choice’ public organisations and private companies alike, University; Professor Paul Cloke, University of Exeter; Dr
  3. 3. 2 Findings: 3 Findings: The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical ConsumptionRight: Regina Joseph,Shoppers in the a banana growerBishopston area from the Windwardof Bristol are Islands, helps celebrate Bristolspoilt for ‘ethical’ becoming Fairtradeconsumer choice, City in March 2005.while those in Photo: BristolHartcli◊e live in Fairtrade Networka veritable ‘fooddesert’Below:Responsibleconsumption ina Bristol suburbPhotos: Jon Tooby who speak for the ‘ethical consumer’. These campaigns The predominant storyline in circulates as a term of public debate only in and through employees, residents and visitors became fairtrade also provide supporters and sympathisers with storylines. The predominant storyline re-inscribes popular discours- es of globalisation into a narrative in which people are ‘ ethical consumption campaigns re-inscribes popular discourses this register of responsibility for the self and for others. These campaigns seek to problematize the consequences of everyday consumption by encouraging people to consumers, knowingly or unknowingly, when visiting the canteens and restaurants of the local authority and other significant organisations in the city. ascribed various responsibilities by virtue of their reflect, deliberate, and discuss the ‘ethical’ dilemmas of activities as consumers but also empowered to act of globalisation into a narrative their routine practices. In turn, people negotiate these MESSAGES FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE ethically and politically in and through these activities. demands for them to take personal responsibility by The ‘consumer’ is NOT the key agent of change in e◊orts in which people are ascribed deploying the vocabularies of citizenship to delineate to change consumption practices! Problematizing choice various responsibilities by virtue the scope of their own actions they consider it possible q Ethical consumption campaigning is most e◊ective in Far from ‘choice’ being straightforwardly championed and and legitimate to change. transforming policies and infrastructures of collective promoted, it is increasingly circulated as a term in policy of their activities as consumers provision, rather than changing individual behaviour discourse and public debate by being problematized. but also empowered to act Fairtrade urbanism through the provision of information. How to ensure that the choices of putatively free Understandings of ethical consumption often assume q Ethical consumption campaigns do not seek to engage individuals are exercised responsibly – in terms both ethically and politically in and a relationship between placeless western consumers ‘consumers’, understood as abstract, self-interested of those individuals’ own good and the good of broader through these activities and place-specific producers in the third world. Using utility maximizers. They engage members of communities communities – has become a recurrent theme of concern. For example, ‘choice’ is problematized in terms of the potential of increased individual choice to conflict with ’ an ethnographic study of the Bristol Fairtrade City Campaign in 2004–2005, this research project shows how fairtrade consumption is aligned with place-based of practice, for example, members of faith groups, schoolchildren, or residents of distinctive localities. public interest goals of sustainability and conservation; interests and identities. The Fairtrade City Campaign BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY in terms of increased choice leading to greater anxiety became a vehicle for enlisting the ordinary people of The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption was and reduced quality of life, even reduced levels of Bristol into awareness of and identification with fairtrade funded by the ESRC /AHRC Cultures of Consumption happiness; or in terms of the limitations of choice in issues. Citizens of Bristol were enrolled into re-imagining research programme and ran from October 2003 to increasing or maintaining equity in social provision and the expansive scope of the city’s responsibilities. Through October 2006 (grant number: RES–143–25–0022–A). access to public services. Ethical consumption campaigns the introduction of fairtrade procurement practices in The project team consisted of Dr Clive Barnett, The Open are actively contributing to this process whereby ‘choice’ public organisations and private companies alike, University; Professor Paul Cloke, University of Exeter; Dr
  4. 4. Findings4 Findings: The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption The Subjects and Spaces of Ethical Consumption: doing politics in an ethical register Nick Clarke, University of Southampton and Dr Alice the Bristol Fairtrade City Campaign’, International Project team: In debates about climate change, human rights, sustainability, and public Malpass, University of Bristol. Journal of Urban and Regional Research (Forthcoming, Clive Barnett 2008). Paul Cloke health, patterns of everyday consumption are identified as a problem requiring PUBLICATIONS INCLUDE Nick Clarke consumers to change their behaviour through the exercise of responsible Alice Malpass Barnett C., Cafaro P. and Newholm T. ‘Philosophy and CONTACT choice. This project explores the contemporary problematization of consump- Ethical Consumption’, in Harrison R., Newholm T. Dr Clive Barnett tion and consumer choice. We investigated the institutional, organisational and and Shaw D.(eds.) The Ethical Consumer (London: Faculty of Social Sciences Sage, 2005). The Open University social dynamics behind the growth in ethical consumption practices in the UK, Barnett C., Clarke N., Cloke P. and Malpass A. ‘The Political Walton Hall focussing in particular on a series of initiatives around fair trade and global Ethics of Consumerism’, Consumer Policy Review Milton Keynes trade justice. Ethical consumption is best understood as a political phenomenon 15(2)(2005), pp. 45–51. MK7 6AA Barnett C., Cloke P., Clarke N. and Malpass A. telephone rather than simply a market response to changes in consumer demand. It ‘Consuming Ethics: Articulating the Subjects and +44 (0)1908 659 700 reflects strategies and organisational forms amongst a diverse range of Spaces of Ethical Consumption’, Antipode 37(1) email governmental and non-governmental actors. It is indicative of distinctive (2005), pp. 23–45. c.barnett@open.ac.uk Clarke N., Barnett C., Cloke P and Malpass A. ‘Globalising project website forms of political mobilisation and representation. And it provides ordinary the Consumer: Doing Politics in an Ethical Register’, http://www.open.ac.uk/socialsciences/research/ people with pathways into wider networks of collective action, ones which seek Political Geography 26(3)(2007), pp. 231–249. spaces-of-ethical-consumption.php to link the mundane spaces of everyday life into campaigns for global justice. Malpass A., Barnett C., Clarke N. and Cloke P. ‘Governance, Consumers, and Citizens: Agency and Resistance in KEY FINDINGS consumerism as an alternative to other forms of Contemporary Politics’, in Bevir M. and Trentmann F. q People bring a range of ethical concerns to their civic involvement or public participation. Ethical (eds.).(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, in press 2007). everyday consumption practices. These range from the consumerism can provide pathways into involvement Malpass A., Cloke P., Barnett C. and Clarke N. ‘Fairtrade personal responsibilities of family life to more public in broader political campaigns. Urbanism: The Politics of Place Beyond Place in commitments such as membership of particular faith communities, political groups, and professional HIGHLIGHTS communities. Globalising the consumer CULTURES OF CONSUMPTION q Ethical consumption campaigns problematize Consumerism is often held to be inimical to collective RESEARCH PROGRAMME everyday practices of consumption by shaping the deliberation and decision-making of the sort required terms of public debate and by getting people to reflect to address pressing environmental, humanitarian and The Cultures of Consumption Programme q to understand the practice, For further details take a look at our website on the relationship between ‘choice’ and ‘responsibility’ global justice issues. Policy interventions and academic funds research on the changing nature ethics and knowledge of www.consume.bbk.ac.uk in everyday consumption routines. discourse alike often assume that transforming of consumption in a global context. consumption q People respond critically and sceptically to demands consumption practices requires interventions that or contact The Programme investigates the different that they should take personal responsibility for various address people as consumers. This research project q to assess the changing Professor Frank Trentmann forms, development and consequences of relationship between Programme director ‘global’ problems by changing their everyday consump- shows that this connection between consumption and consumption, past and present. Research consumption and citizenship telephone +44 (0)20 7079 0603 tion practices. consumers is a contingent achievement of strategically projects cover a wide range of subjects, email esrcConsumepd@bbk.ac.uk q The capacity of citizens to actively contribute to motivated actors with specific objectives in the public from UK public services to drugs in east q to explain the shifting local, Africa, London’s fashionable West End to metropolitan and transnational or concerted action to transform consumption practices realm. Focussing on the discursive interventions used global consumer politics. The £5 million boundaries of cultures of Stefanie Nixon is socially di◊erentiated by both material resources in ethical consumption campaigns, the research found Cultures of Consumption Programme consumption Programme administrator and cultural capital: by income levels, residential that that these are not primarily aimed at encouraging is the first to bring together experts from Cultures of Consumption q to explore consumption in the location, and personal mobility, and by involvement generic consumers to recognise themselves for the first the social sciences and the arts and Research Programme domestic sphere in social networks and associational practices. time as ‘ethical’ consumers. Rather, they aim to provide humanities. It is co-funded by the ESRC Birkbeck College and the AHRC. q to investigate alternative and Malet Street q Ethical consumption initiatives are successful when information to people already disposed to support or sustainable consumption London WC1 7HX E they succeed in enabling changes in practical routines sympathise with certain causes; information that The aims of the Cultures of Consumption telephone +44 (0)20 7079 0601 of consumption. This might include changes at the level enables them to extend their concerns and commitments Programme are: q to develop an interface facsimile +44 (0)20 7079 0602 between cutting edge academic of domestic practices or changes at the level of whole into everyday consumption practices. These acts of email esrcConsume@bbk.ac.uk research and public debate. systems of urban infrastructure. consumption are in turn counted, reported, surveyed q There is little evidence that people adopt ethical and represented in the public realm by organisations

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