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The present chapter proposes an organizing framework for understanding the effects of political ideology on consumer behavior. We first summarize how political ideology is conceptualized and operationalized in the literature. We then describe three levels at which political ideology shapes consumption decisions. At the individual level, the political ideology of consumers has wide-ranging effects on their acquisition, consumption, and divestment decisions. At the company level, the political ideology of companies with which consumers interact influences corporate political actions (such as lobbying) and activism (such as taking a stand on sociopolitical issues and events), with tangible implications for consumer behavior and company outcomes. At the system level, the political ideology of systems, reflected in the media, cultural, policy, and social environments that consumers and scholars navigate, has far-ranging implications for consumer decision-making, well-being, and even the body of knowledge generated on the topic of political ideology.
Contemporary consumer researchers are increasingly faced with studying and understanding complex market and consumption phenomena impacting not just a sole individual or household, but whole communities, countries, and societies. These intricate phenomena cannot be understood through positivist experimental approaches conducted in a lab, but rather using qualitative research methods and a broader sociocultural lens. This chapter provides a concise and synthesizing overview of the developments in consumer culture research from the last decade. Specifically, it first unpacks the role of consumer identities, emotions, communities, technology, brands, politics, time, and space in consumer culture. Next, it discusses the qualitative methods typically utilized to conduct this type of research. Finally, it concludes with specific future directions for scholars interested in pursuing consumer culture research.
Climate activists across generations and borders demonstrate in the streets, while people also take climate actions via everyday professional efforts at work. In this dispersal of climate actions, the pursuit of personal politics is merging with civic, state and corporate commitment to the point where we are witnessing a rebirth of togetherness and alternative ways of collective organising, from employee activism, activist entrepreneurship, to insider activism, shareholder activism and prosumer activism. By empirically investigating this diffuse configuration of the environmental movement with focus on renewable energy technology, the commercial footing of climate activism is uncovered. The book ethnographically illustrates how activism goes into business, and how business goes into activism, to further trace how an ‘epistemic community’ emerges through co-creation of lay knowledge, not only about renewables, but political action itself. No longer tied to a specific geographical spot, organisation, group or even shared political identity, many politicians and business leaders applaud this affluent climate ‘action’, in their efforts to reach beyond mere climate ‘adaptation’ and speed up the energy transition. Conclusively, climate activism is no longer a civic phenomenon defined by struggles, pursued by the activist as we knew it, but testament of feral proximity and horizontal organising.
The contemporary world seems obsessed with stuff: how to get it, what to do with it, how to get rid of it. Although historians long assumed that rising consumption began with industrialization, we now know that the pace of consumption accelerated in the early modern world well before the age of mass production. In seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, women and men began to accumulate more clothing, carry more personal accessories, fill their households with more furnishings, and wear, smoke, snort, eat, and drink prodigious quantities of colonial products. Although scholars debate whether to call this growth in consumption “revolutionary” or “evolutionary,” they agree that is was transformational. It changed how people looked, ate, socialized, and thought, giving rise to debates about moral progress and ushering in new forms of revolutionary political activism. This book has offered a new interpretation of the consumer revolution by incorporating questions of empire, political economy, global trade, slavery, material culture, philosophy, politics, and revolution. One important theme that remains to be explored, however, is the relationship between consumption and the environment. Any solution to the climate crisis will require a revolution in how humans think about – and practice – consumption. Although today nothing seems more natural than relentless consumption, it, too, has a history. Heightening awareness of the fact that consumption in the contemporary world is a historical construct, an outcome of contingent historical factors, is an important first step toward resolving the climate crisis. For any invention of human society can be reinvented.
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