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Title: Lone No More: The Sociable Ethical Consumer
Authors: Lee, Min-Hye
Supervisors: Davies, Andrea
Higgins, Matthew
Award date: 1-Mar-2015
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: The growth of ethical consumerism has produced numerous ethical consumption studies in the field of management. However previous studies are often criticised for assuming that ethical consumers are rational decision-makers and that ethical consumption is narrowly understood in an individualistic, rational, and free-choice context. This thesis argues that consumers are essentially meaning-making beings whose identities are symbolically presented in society and culture. Increasing attention in consumption studies of identity is now being paid to the role of expression and the socio-cultural aspects of consumption. This thesis builds on this to explore the socio-cultural aspects of ethical consumption. It takes an ethnographic approach, using multifaceted qualitative research methods, participant observation and semi-structured interviews to investigate ethical consumption in a self-defined ethically conscious consumer group, the BORA in South Korea. The empirical data indicate that the notion of ethical consumption is much more complex than purchasing ethical products. It is understood and presented by various activities and meanings which are located in a socially constructed world. The notion of a perfect form or type of ethical consumption is rejected as unattainable and participants adopt the notion of always becoming ethically conscious. Ethical consumption is found to operate in the micro-practices of the everyday. Ethical consumption is revealed to work ‘quietly’ as a subtle and inconspicuous kind of activism embedded in a group context. Ethically conscious consumers are found to generate a form of collective identity through socialisation within a voluntary organisation. This thesis contributes to establishing an understanding of the complex dynamics of ethical consumption by looking at how ethical consumption is conceived and performed. This thesis also offers a method-in-practice contribution as it reports on the influence linguistic and cultural characteristics play on the way qualitative research is conducted in a different culture context, South Korea.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Management
Leicester Theses

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