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Ecological Citizenship and Sustainable Consumption: Examining Local Organic Food Networks

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Sustainable consumption is gaining in currency as a new environmental policy objective. This paper presents new research findings from a mixed-method empirical study of a local organic food network to interrogate the theories of both sustainable consumption and ecological citizenship. It describes a mainstream policy model of sustainable consumption, and contrasts this with an alternative model derived from green or ‘new economics’ theories. Then the role of localised, organic food networks is discussed to locate them within the alternative model. It then tests the hypothesis that ecological citizenship is a driving force for ‘alternative’ sustainable consumption, via expression through consumer behaviour such as purchasing local organic food. The empirical study found that both the organisation and their consumers were expressing ecological citizenship values in their activities in a number of clearly identifiable ways, and that the initiative was actively promoting the growth of ecological citizenship, as well as providing a meaningful social context for its expression. Furthermore, the initiative was able to overcome the structural limitations of mainstream sustainable consumption practices. Thus, the initiative was found to be a valuable tool for practising alternative sustainable consumption. The paper concludes with a discussion of how ecological citizenship may be a powerful motivating force for sustainable consumption behaviour, and the policy and research implications of this.
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... El estudio de las redes de actores frecuentemente se realiza desde una mirada centrada en las alternativas emergentes a nivel local (Kirwan y Maye, 2012;Milestad et al., 2010;Seyfang, 2006Seyfang, , 2007; es en las localidades donde se puede observar la dinámica entre actores así como sus mayores resultados. Sin embargo, otros autores parten de un análisis a nivel meso, buscando ampliar su terreno y sus interrelaciones para el análisis (Hermans et al., 2013;Smith y Jehlička, 2013). ...
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The presented article focuses on the issue of consumer ethnocentrism as a possible factor affecting the complex perception of organic food. The aim of this article is threefold: (1) measuring consumer ethnocentrism, (2) measuring the perception of organic food, and (3) examining the relationship between consumer ethnocentrism and the perception of organic food. The article is supported by a primary survey focused on Slovaks aged 15-26. From the point of view of methodology, we use a number of scientific-philosophical (analysis, synthesis, scientific abstraction) and mathematical-statistical methods (descriptive and inductive statistics). In this work, we use two tools, namely CETSCALE for measuring consumer ethnocentrism and the newly created tool POFscale for measuring the perception of organic food. The reliability of both instruments was verified on the basis of reliability estimation coefficients, namely Cronbach's alpha. The results suggest that the youth segment achieves a low level of consumer ethnocentrism and a positive perception of organic food. It can also be stated that consumer ethnocentrism does not appear to be a factor in the perception of organic food.
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