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An analysis of ethical consumption participation and motivation




Long, Michael Andrew, author
Raynolds, Laura T., 1959-, advisor
Berry, Kenneth J., committee member
Littrell, Mary Ann, committee member
Murray, Douglas L., 1947-, committee member

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Consumption is part of everyone's lives. Throughout history the act of consumption was used exclusively for material needs satisfaction and, for some, as a mechanism to display wealth. However, in contemporary society, an increasing number of people are using consumption choices to support issues and causes. This growing trend is often referred to as ethical consumption. This study explores who participations in ethical consumption and why they choose to do so. I recommend a new methodological approach for the study of ethical consumption that focuses on ethical behaviors and the motivations for that behavior. I demonstrate that ethical consumption is prevalent in Colorado using a state-wide mail survey and focus groups. Bivariate and multivariate analyses of survey data and focus group discussions show that liberal political affiliation, higher levels of education and holding postmateralist values are significantly related to higher levels of participation in ethical consumption. The findings also highlight the different motivations of individuals for engaging in ethical consumption. I find two major categories of values-based consumers: ethical consumers who use their purchasing decisions to support broad issues and more directed political consumers who strive to create social change with their consumption choices. Finally, I discover that some ethical consumers create a collective identity with other ethical consumers. The results highlight how many individuals use non-economically rational consumption choices to engage with social issues.


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Consumption (Economics) -- Moral and ethical aspects -- Colorado
Ethical culture movement -- Colorado
Consumer behavior -- Moral and ethical behavior -- Colorado
Social justice


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