Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Exploring and articulating ethics in consumption : a multi-method analysis of the ethics of consumption
Author: Hall, Sarah Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2704 2796
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2010
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
With the reinvigoration of cultural and social geography in the 1980's, alongside the Moral Turn of the 1990's, moral questions in consumption have become commonplace in geography (Smith 2000). The moral turn also coincided with increased public protests against companies engaged in unethical or unsustainable production practices (McGregor 2006). Today, consumers have access to a wide range of products, or 'devices' (Barnett et a/ 2005), that are considered to be 'ethical' in terms of their production, through which consumers may express their morals, such as fair trade, organic, and locally produced goods. In more recent years, these Ethical Consumer discourses have been opened up to critique. However, ethical consumption still remains vastly under-theorised in relation to many other aspects of consumption studies and human geography, and little is known about how ethics in consumption form and how they are translated into consumption practices. Similarly, ethical consumption has previously been researched only in terms of shopping habits and market projections, and not as an everyday grounded practice. More research is needed that manages to capture these 'lived' elements of everyday consumption, which currently remain to be a 'black box'. By addressing the grounded, real-life nature of consumption, we might be able to think beyond the monetary values of products, to explore how consumption practices are connected to, and create, a variety of moral geographies, and how everyday practices are intertwined with these moral networks. One way is by recognising the ethical decisions that people make in their everyday consumption choices, and how these values are related to wider global issues. This thesis therefore aims to identify; how consumers incorporate their morals into their consumption choices and decisions; the impacts of education, family practices and marketing strategies in shaping consumption; and whether 'ethical consumption' can be disentangled from 'ordinary consumption'. To do this, the research adopts an innovative methodological approach, using a multi-sited, three-pronged research design. This includes ethnographic research with families from 2007-2009, focus groups and lesson observations in three schools, and interviews with thirteen companies, to effectively and thoroughly explore the ethics of consumption in narrative and practice. Using these data, the research explores where morals come from, how they are influenced and by whom, the ways in which ethics are expressed on a daily basis, and how morals are performed as a means of fulfilling ethical responsibilities. Therefore, this thesis contributes to discourses surrounding ethics, consumption, ethical consumption, care, responsibility and accountability. It is argued that geographers need to reassess and reconfigure how to address ethics in consumption, since current ethical consumer discourses are prescriptive and limiting, and are laden with assumptions, judgements and class distinctions. This thesis creates an argument for an ethics of consumption, rather than ethical consumption, which recognises the importance of everyday ethical decision-making, and consumption as a behaviour that goes hand-in-hand with moral debates.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available