Willis, Margaret Mary. “'Conscious Consumption' and Activism”, Boston College, 2009. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/986.
This thesis empirically examines the long-standing critique that consumption is inherently apolitical and a distraction from civic and political involvement. This image of consumers has been particularly salient in current debates about 'conscious consumption' motivated by ecological and social justice issues. Whether buying organic or fair-trade actually displaces activism has remained unsubstantiated. Based on the results of an online survey administered to a group of individuals who identify as conscious consumers, regression analyses were conducted to isolate the relationship between conscious consumption and formal and informal activism for over 1700 respondents. The results of the analyses reveal that higher levels of consistency in conscious consumption practices are significantly related to greater social and political involvement on ecological and social justice issues, even when controlling for prior levels of involvement. Respondents also reported higher overall participation rates in general when compared to pre-existing data on nationally representative samples. Consumption is not displacing involvement and activism among these conscious consumers, suggesting that conscious consumption may be an integral element of broader action for many.