Protecting the Environment the Natural Way: Ethical Consumption and Commodity Fetishism

Antipode (Impact Factor: 1.89). 05/2010; 42(3):672 - 689. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8330.2010.00768.x


  One of the ways that conservation and capitalism intersect is in ethical consumption, the shaping of purchasing decisions by an evaluation of the moral attributes of objects on offer. It is increasingly important as a way that people think that they can affect the world around them, including protecting the natural environment. This paper describes commodity fetishism in ethical consumption, and the degree to which this fetishism makes it difficult for ethical consumers to be effective both in their evaluation of objects on offer and in influencing the world around them. It looks at three forms of fetishism in ethical consumption: fetishism of objects, fetishism of the purchase and consumption of objects, fetishism of nature.

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    • "In this cultural as well as political–economic context, key concerns around environmental conservation and social (in)justice are frequently implicated in market-based approaches to activism that have materialized as, for example, alternative, fair and green consumer products (Bryant and Goodman, 2004; Carrier, 2010; Guthman, 2008). The focus on the individual consumer is seen to obscure the structural disadvantages that perpetuate environmental injustices. "
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