Shopping for a better world? [Elektronische Ressource] : a qualitative study of political intentions among Danish consumers in relation to everyday food consumption / Marianne Stenger
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Shopping for a better world? [Elektronische Ressource] : a qualitative study of political intentions among Danish consumers in relation to everyday food consumption / Marianne Stenger

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268 Pages
English

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Shopping for a better world? – A qualitative study of political intentions among Danish consumers in relation to every day food consumption Dissertation Zur Erlangung des Grades Doktor der Wirtschaftswissenschaften Dr.rer. pol. der Universität Flensburg Vorgelegt von Marianne Stenger Aus Pattburg, Dänemark 2010 Gutachter: Herr Prof. Dr. Wenzel Matiaske Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Fakultät für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften Institut für Personalwesen und Internationales Management Herr Prof. Dr. Florian Schramm Universität Hamburg Fakultät Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften Department Wirtschaft und Politik Datum der Promotion: 9. Juli 2009 1 Chapter 1: Introduction, problematisation, limitations and structure .............................................. 7 1.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................................. 7 1.1.1. Interest in the phenomenon political consumption ...... 10 1.1.2. Is the phenomenon political consumption so interesting? ........................... 13 1.1.3. Macro sociological perspectives on political consumption .......................................................... 15 1.1.3.1. The subpolitics concept .............................................................................................. 15 1.1.3.2. The life politics concept ............................. 21 1.2.

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Shopping for a better world? – A qualitative study of
political intentions among Danish consumers in relation to
every day food consumption


Dissertation

Zur Erlangung des Grades
Doktor der Wirtschaftswissenschaften Dr.rer. pol.
der Universität Flensburg

Vorgelegt von

Marianne Stenger


Aus
Pattburg, Dänemark 2010




Gutachter:

Herr Prof. Dr. Wenzel Matiaske
Helmut-Schmidt-Universität
Fakultät für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften
Institut für Personalwesen und Internationales Management


Herr Prof. Dr. Florian Schramm
Universität Hamburg
Fakultät Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften
Department Wirtschaft und Politik


Datum der Promotion: 9. Juli 2009
1
Chapter 1: Introduction, problematisation, limitations and structure .............................................. 7
1.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................................. 7
1.1.1. Interest in the phenomenon political consumption ...... 10
1.1.2. Is the phenomenon political consumption so interesting? ........................... 13
1.1.3. Macro sociological perspectives on political consumption .......................................................... 15
1.1.3.1. The subpolitics concept .............................................................................................. 15
1.1.3.2. The life politics concept ............................. 21
1.2. Problematisation ........................................................................................ 26
1.2.1. Disposition of a competing thesis ................................................................... 26
1.2.1.1. The problematics of measuring political consumption ............... 26
1.2.1.2. The problematics surrounding political intentionality ................ 39
1.2.1.3. The problematics surrounding price and availability ................. 41
1.2.1.4. Summary of the problematics..................................................................................................................... 42
1.3. Problem definition and research questions ............... 45
1.4. Limitations .................................................................................................. 46
1.4.1. Theoretical focus ............................................................................................. 46
1.4.2. Empirical focus 49
1.4.3. Unit of analysis ................................................................ 55
1.5. Structure ..................................................................... 56
Chapter 2: Research into political consumption – an overview ...................... 58
2.1. Research trends within political consumption .......................................................................... 58
2.1.1 Research into the determination of environmentally conscious, ethical and political consumer
profiles ........................................................................................ 63
2.1.1.1. The 1970’s segmentation research ............................................................................. 63
2.1.1.2. Summary of 1970’s segmentation research. ............................... 65
2.1.1.3. Segmentation research for the 1980’s and beyond ..................................................... 66
2.1.1.4. Summary of segmentation research of the 1980’s and later ....... 71
2.1.2. Research into consumer motives in relation to environmentally friendly behaviour ............... 72
2.1.2.1. The theoretical foundation of the attitude research .................................................................................... 73
2.1.2.2. The empirical research into the connection between attitude and behaviour ............. 74
2.1.2.3. Summary of the empirical attitude research ............................... 80
2.1.3. Research into political consumption and food products .............................................................. 80
2.2. Summary ..................................................................................................... 90
Chapter 3: Developing a conceptual framework ............................................. 93
3.1. Determining the concept of political consumption ... 93
3.1.1. Presentation of criteria ................................................................................... 94
3.1.1.1. The intentionality aspect ............................................................ 96
3.1.1.2. The community aspect ............................. 102
3.2. Consumer cognition ................................................. 107
3.2.1. Cognition, cognitive processes and structures ............................................................................ 107
2 3.2.2. Uncovering cognitive structures .................................................................................................. 111
3.2.2.1. The means-end chains theory ................... 112
3.2.2.2. Laddering ................................................. 117
3.3. Summary ................................................................... 119
Chapter 4: Paradigmatic approach, research strategy and method .............................................. 120
4.1. Defining the concept paradigm ............................... 120
4.2. Paradigmatic approaches......................................................................... 122
4.3 The application of paradigms in marketing and consumer research ..................................... 125
4.4 The paradigmatic roots of research on political consumption ................ 128
4.4.1. Choice of paradigmatic approach for the thesis ......................................... 130
4.5. The case study as research strategy ......................................................... 131
4.5.1. Selecting the case study ................................................................................. 132
4.5.2. Selecting a case type ...................... 133
4.5.3. Case selection ................................................................................................................................. 134
4.5.3.1. Intensity sampling .... 135
4.5.3.2. Snowball sampling ... 136
4.5.4. Data collection ............................... 137
4.5.5. Data analysis .................................................................................................................................. 137
4.5.6. Validity and reliability issues ....... 139
4.5.6.1. Determination of the validity concept in qualitative research .. 139
4.5.6.2. Methods applied to ensure credibility and transferability ........ 141
4.5.6.3. Determination of the reliability concept in qualitative research ............................................................... 142
4.5.6.4. Methods applied to ensure dependability ................................................................. 143
4.5.6.5. Determination of the objectivity concept in qualitative research ............................. 143
4.5.6.6. Methods applied to ensure confirmability 144
4.5.6.7. Wallendorf og Belk’s fifth concept: integrity.......................................................... 144
4.5.6.8. Methods applied to ensure integrity ......................................................................... 144
4.6. Summary ................................................................... 145
Chapter 5: Data analysis – Political consumption: more consumption than politics? ................ 146
5.1 Presentation and construction of cases .................................................................................... 146
5.2. Case description Julie – ”I do it for myself” ........... 148
5.2.1. To what extent are the informants political? .............................................................................. 149
5.2.2. Application of assessment criterion 1 .......................... 149
5.2.2.1. The individual buycott ............................................................. 150
5.2.2.2. Reference framework for the analysis of the individual boycotts ............................................................ 151
5.2.2.3 The public motive...................................................................... 152
5.2.2.4. The three private motives: social, caring and pleasure motives ............................... 152
5.2.2.5. The individual boycott ............................................................. 154
5.2.3. Application of assessment criterion 2 .......................................................................................... 155
5.2.4. Case summary and response to research question a .................................. 156
5.3. Case description B: Hans - ”It’s all about behaving reasonably” ......... 157
5.3.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 .......................................................................................... 158
3 5.3.1.1. The individual buycott ............................................................................................................................. 158
5.3.1.2. The individual boycott 160
5.3.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 .......................... 161
5.3.3. Case summary and response to research question a .................................................................. 161
5.4. Case description C: Morten – ”My mother’s ecological principles” ..... 162
5.4.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 .......................................................................................... 163
5.4.1.1. The individual buycott ............................................................. 163
5.4.1.2. The individual boycott 164
5.4.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 .......................... 165
5.4.3. Case summary and response to research question a .................................................................. 165
5.5. Case description D: Lone – ”My background in this health service sector” ......................... 166
5.5.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 .......................................................................................... 167
5.5.1.1. The individual buycott ............................................................. 167
5.5.1.2. The individual boycott 168
5.5.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 .......................... 169
5.5.3. Case summary and response to research question a .................................................................. 169
5.6. Case description E: Henrik: ”I think about the coming generations” .. 170
5.6.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 .......................................................................................... 170
5.6.1.1. The individual buycott ............................................................. 170
5.6.1.2. The individual boycott 172
5.6.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 .......................... 173
5.6.3. Case summary and response to research question a .................................................................. 174
5.7. Case description F: Emma: ”It’s about the values you put on the table” ............................. 175
5.7.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 .......................................................................................... 176
5.7.1.1. The individual buycott ................................ 176
5.7.1.2. The individual boycott ............................. 177
5.7.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 .......................... 177
5.7.3. Case summary and response to research question a .................................................................. 178
5.8. Case description G: Iben - ”No trust in the conventional system” ........ 178
5.8.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 .......................................................................................... 179
5.8.1.1. The individual buycott ............................................................. 179
5.8.1.2. The individual boycott 180
5.8.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 .......................... 181
5.8.3. Case summary and response to research question a .................................................................. 181
5.9. Case description H: Rikke – ”An awareness surrounding the connection between food and
illness” ............................................................................................................................................. 182
5.9.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 .......................... 182
5.9.1.1. The individual buycott ............................. 183
5.9.1.2. The individual boycott 184
5.9.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 .......................................................................................... 185
5.9.3. Case summary and response to research question a .................................. 185
4 5.10. Case description I: Nanna – ”I get a better feeling by eating organic food” ...................... 186
5.10.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 ........................................................................................ 187
5.10.1.1. The individual buycott ........................................................... 187
5.10.1.2. The individual boycott 188
5.10.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 ....................... 189
5.10.3. Case summary and response to research question a ................................................................ 189
5.11. Case description J: Peter: ”The most concrete political position I take at all” ................... 189
5.11.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 ........................................................................................ 190
5.11.1.1. The individual buycott ........................................................... 190
5.11.1.2. The individual boycott 191
5.11.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 ........................ 192
5.11.3. Case summary and response to research question a ................................................................ 193
5.12. Case description K: Else: ”Memories of my mother’s herb and vegetable garden” ........... 193
5.12.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 ........................................................................................ 194
5.12.1.1. The individual buycott ........................................................... 194
5.12.1.2. The individual boycott 196
5.12.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 ........................ 196
5.12.3. Case summary and response to research question a ................................................................ 196
5.13. Case description K: Rune: ”It’s probably all about health in the end” .............................. 197
5.13.1. Application of assessment criterion 1 ........................................................................................ 198
5.13.1.1. The individual buycott ........................................................... 198
5.13.1.2. The individual boycott ........................... 199
5.13.2. Application of assessment criterion 2 ........................ 200
5.13.3. Case summary and response to research question a ................................................................ 200
5.14. Cross-case analysis................................................................................. 201
5.14.1. Possible motive categories in relation to the buycott ............................... 202
5.14.1.1. Buycotting as health-driven consumption acts ....................................................... 202
5.14.1.2. Buycotting as political consumption acts 204
5.14.1.3. Buycotting as ”both and” consumption acts ........................................................... 205
5.14.1.4. Buycotting as “neither nor” consumption acts ....................... 206
5.14.2. Analysis of the boycott ................................................................................ 207
5.14.3. Summarised response to research question a ........................................... 208
5.15. Summary ................................................................. 208
Kapitel 6: Dataanalysis – Consumer cognition in relation to buycotting organic food ............... 211
6.1. Presentation of informants and procedure ............................................................................. 211
6.2. From laddering data to implication matrix and hierarchical value map .............................. 214
6.2.1. The construction of summary content codes .............. 215
6.2.2. Constructing the implication matrix ........................................................................................... 219
6.2.3. Results summarized in the hierarchical value map ................................... 224
6.2.3.1. Means-end chains for the attribute ”No pesticides” ................................................. 224
6.2.3.2. Means-end chains for the attribute ”taste/quality” ................... 225
5 6.2.3.3. Means-end chains for the attribute “luxury” ............................................................................................ 225
6.2.3.4. Means-end chains for the attribute ”price” ............................... 225
6.2.3.5. Means- end chains for the attribute ”convenience” .................. 225
6.2.4. Determination of ”dominating” cognitive representations ...................................................... 226
6.2.5. Answering research question b .................................................................... 228
6.4. Validation of the laddering results .......................................................... 230
6.5. Summary ................................................................... 231
Chapter 7: Implications .................................................................................. 233
7.1. Measuring political intention in consumption acts ................................................................ 233
7.1.1. The environmental motive as having potential for both political and non-political content .. 234
7.1.2. Measuring the spread of political consumption in a more context specific way ..................... 236
7.1.3. Comparing the informants having a political intention with the political consumer profile . 238
7.1.4. Assessing value orientations in estimating the market potential for political products ......... 238
8. References ................................................................................................................................... 241

6 “Political shopping, the forwarding of political e-mails about companies’ labor practices, culture
jamming (the use of humor and symbolic images from the corporate world to break corporate
power), and so on are examples of political action repertoires through which citizens use political
values and goals to target selected companies, international organizations, or simply public
attention” (Stolle and Micheletti, 2005: 3)

Chapter 1: Introduction, problematisation, limitations and structure
The purpose of Chapter 1 is to introduce the theme of the dissertation as well as to argue for the
research problem. This is done by introducing the phenomenon political consumption and raising
attention to possible research gaps within this field. Discussing the research gaps leads to a problem
formulation and two associated research questions. Limitation issues are raised discussing
specifically the empirical focus and the unit of analysis. Finally, the structure of the dissertation is
introduced.

1.1 Introduction
Since the 80’s, new, modified or alternative forms of political participation supplementing the
classical parliamentary voter participation have emerged. Participation forms, where the population
outside the representative institutions express their attitudes and attempt to exercise influence.
Referring to the introductory quotation, Stolle and Michelleti (2005) mention political shopping and
political e-mails as ways of participating which are less institutionalized and conventional in a
political participation sense. Pattie et al., (2003) find support for a change in the political
participation repertoires. They have investigated the British population’s way of participating, and
this study indicates that ”people’s participation in conventional political activities (such as voting,
contacting a politician, and attending a political meeting) has declined, whereas participation in
consumption and contact politics (boycotting goods and contacting the media) have grown
significantly”. The same tendency is confirmed by several authors who state that the political
participation repertoire has been extended from classical voting to participation in various social
movements and further to shopping or boycotting products. Neller and van Deth, 2006; European
Social Survey, 2002; Petersson et al., 1998).

7 The appearance of political participation forms outside the classical political system is also argued
by sociologists to be in line with a contemporary tendency where the distinction between the public,
traditionally political sphere and the private sphere become blurred (Bauman, 1999; Beck, 1997a).

Apparently, citizens look for new ways to express their political opinions and exert political
influence. Stolle and Micheletti (2005) refer to this changed action repertoires as political
consumerism where citizens for example are involved in boycotts or “buycotts” and use the market
as an arena for expressing political concerns. Meanwhile, Steen Svendsen from the Copenhagen
Institute for Future Studies was the first in Denmark to introduce not the term “political
consumerism” but ”political consumption” in 1995 as an alternative way of putting forward
political viewpoints, where the consumers act through their purchasing decisions in a market
context:

First and foremost, I am convinced that an even greater part of our consumption in the future will
express political viewpoints, and that political consumption will become a significant supplement to
the traditional participation channels. The concrete products and areas that are included in
political consumption can change according to fashion, actual circumstances, supply and
information, but the political consumption – the mixture of politics and consumption –has in itself
come to stay.” (Svendsen, 1995:3)


Characteristic for political consumption or what Stolle and Michelletti would call “political
shopping” as a political form of participation is that the consumers, in addition to the traditional
consumer motives, e.g. price and quality, establish a range of social, ethical and/or environmental
criteria in their consumer decisions, e.g. acceptable prices for farmers in third-world countries, or
the avoidance of pesticides in agriculture. In consumer behaviour literature consumers are often
characterized as people seeking to pursue rational self interest goals building upon the theory of the
egoistic economic man, but in recognizing concepts such as ethical, socially responsible or political
consumption, the consumer motives are being expanded to also include other values than self
interested, mainly economic ones (Micheletti et al., 2004). Participating in political consumption
thus means that the consequences of consumption in relation to society as a whole are evaluated
which speaks for a more responsibility taking political consumer type. The consumers who thus
perceive the environment as an important theme in their life will, therefore assess the environmental
implications of her consumer behaviour. Thus, if an individual is concerned about the accumulation
of waste in society, this could result in particular behavioural patterns such as buying products with
8 an environmentally friendly packaging. The concern is then converted into daily consumption
routines of product, therefore, does not only satisfy the consumer’s immediate needs and wishes,
but contributes to an improvement of the environment in the longer term (Follows and Jobber,
2000). In other words political consumption occurs, according to Micheletti et al. (2004) when
consumers consciously use their desire to change objectionable institutional, market, environmental,
political or ethical practices for making choices among producers and products.

Environmentally friendly behaviour can thus exemplify a form of political consumption, in that
sense that environmental motives are supported or accompanied by a political motive. Ethical
consumption, such as the choosing of fair trade products is another area where the consumer can
have political intentions underlying their consumption (Nordisk Ministerråd, 2001, 2003). It also
emerges in Uusitalo and Oksanen (2004) that the most essential aspect surrounding ethical
consumption is that the consumer not only considers individual aims/demands, but also takes in
social aims, ideals and ideologies. Ethical consumption is considered by Moisander (2001) as a
symbolic form of consumption, in that the consumer is pursuing an ethical lifestyle, identity or
other social values. Ethical consumption is not referred to as being directly politically motivated,
but the understanding of what makes the consumption political, namely that there is a more external
aim, a so-called collective aim, which is also implicit in the ethical consumption. The consumer can
thereby, whether the person concerns practices ethical, environmentally friendly, or also socially
responsible consumption, participate and signal which direction the society should take and thus
practice a form of politically motivated consumption. Political consumption can thus be seen as a
political participation form in contemporary time, and surveys show that consumer boycotting and
moral shopping in countries such as Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Spain have increased
(Neller and van Deth, 2006). Other authors also argue that product choice or consumption in
general can be reframed as another arena for participatory democracy and that such moral
awareness among consumers can be regarded as a legitimate form of empowerment, where the
consumer through actions in the marketplace seek to influence (Carrigan et al., 2004; Muldoon,
2006).

The possible growth in political consumption as an alternative participation form can among other
aspects be seen in the light of a range of strongly media-publicised cases that have had a moral,
ethical and/or political content, where the consumers have wished to make apparent their
9 disapproval with, particularly, corporate business ethics or the decisions of governments. The
boycott of the petrol giant Shell in 1995 is a well known example of consumers exerting a massive
pressure via their buying power, such that the plans to dump the oil drilling platform Brent Spar
were given up. The boycott of French red wine is similarly an expression of consumer opposition to
the French government’s carrying out of atom bomb tests in the Pacific ocean. The boycott of
British beef due to the debate on mad cow disease serves to illustrate another example of
participation in politics through political consumption. An example from 2000 concerns an
American student’s internet based protest against Nike’s so-called “sweatshops” that resulted in
global media coverage that reached out to 11.4 billion people (Micheletti, 2003). The Danes boycott
of the dairy giant Arla’s products due to the company’s treatment of the cooperative society
members, together with the perception of generally arrogant and monopolising behaviour is an
example from 2003. The examples show that the citizen as a political consumer has come into play.
A prerequisite for this kind of political action is according to Denegri-Knott et al. (2006) a
consumer who is intelligent, conscious and informed and aware of the power of individual
consumer choices for advancing larger global and collective issues of social and economic justice,
the environment and human rights. In other words the market and the consumer are involved in
politics through their moral shopping behaviour. Michelleti (2003) terms it individualized political
action, meaning private, individualized behaviour that is not manifested in political movement or
parties. It is collective in the way that the mass of political or moral shoppers express a collective
element and a possible way to seek political influence. Under political consumption the market has
therefore been turned into a political arena where citizens through the role as consumers can make
decisions about what they think is right or wrong or as Beck and Beck-Gernsheim (2002) put it turn
their (consumers) attention from the ballot to the mall.

1.1.1. Interest in the phenomenon political consumption
The realisation of the political consumer’s potential power in the market for goods is an aspect that
has caught the attention of various interested parties. The risk of experiencing a consumer boycott
has led to commercial companies trying to prepare for the management of the increased pressure
that arises, particularly from the media and the consumers. The companies’ interest in the
phenomenon can also be due to the fact that there is now an economic logic in taking positions on
topics such as the environment, ethics and/or social responsibility, etc. (Nicholls, 2002; Sørensen,
2004). One possible consequence of this is the growth in the number of ”green” products during the
10