Caring Consumers and their Everyday Ethics of Consumption

Niki Vlastara

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Literature on consumer ethics tends to focus on issues within the public sphere, such as the environment, and treats other motivations and influences on consumption practices and choices, such as relationships with close and distant others, as being of very little moral concern. Ethical consumers are assumed to be rational decision-makers and ethical consumption is narrowly understood in an individualistic, rational, and free-choice context. Consequently, consumers fall short in translating their ethical intentions into actions and thus, they are often criticised for failing to ‘walk their talk’.
To highlight the importance of context to consumption decisions and the impact of consumer’s responsibilities stemming from being in relationships with others, this study adopts the ethics of care theoretical framework to explore consumers’ everyday ethics of consumption. Using a phenomenological approach, this work analyses how the ethics of care intersect and influence ethics of consumption practices and choices. The market of South Florida, in the United States was chosen as the research context because of its particular location and present environmental issues.
This research offers three key theoretical contributions. First it demonstrates how consumers’ relationships mediate their ethics of consumption. Second, the research explores how consumers deliberate their everyday ethics of consumption while attending and responding to their own needs and to those of their close and distant others. Third, it highlights how the market mediates consumers’ care and caring through their everyday ethics of consumption. This research enriches understanding of the complex dynamics of the everyday ethics of consumption through the ethics of care theoretical framework.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Maclaran, Pauline, Supervisor
  • Chatzidakis, Andreas, Supervisor
Award date1 May 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 30 Apr 2018

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