Critical consumption as civic engagement

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From the mid-nineties onwards, critical consumption, in its many forms but always intended as a set of actions implemented by those who pay attention, and already in the purchase decision, to the quality of the properties that make a product reliable by following the supply chain according to a logic of social, economic and environmental sustainability, has been one of the most innovative research areas in consumer sociology. Even if articulated in significant rivulets and research paths, sociological studies on critical consumption have highlighted above all their specificity as a set of activities [Leonini, Sassatelli, 2008; Forno, Graziano, 2016] that connotes a double value both civic and, in the extreme form, political. In Forno’s words What is identified with the term “critical consumption” concerns the purchase of goods and services based on considerations that do not take into account only the price and the quality of the products, but also the behaviour of the producers (the ethical treatment granted to workers ) and production methods (for example the environmental sustainability of the production process) [Forno, 2009, 1]. Here we want to highlight above all, the civic value in relation to the particular meaning that it assumes as a reaction to a context in which the supply of goods and services is produced by intermediary institutions that are, in very high percentages, victims of extortionists belonging to organised crime known as "Cosa Nostra". Buying only products or services offered for sale by businesses that display a sticker that identifies them as belonging to an anti-racket association, is one of the ways in which critical consumption is declined. Therefore, if critical consumption is a form of civic engagement as a practice of everyday life that contributes to spreading awareness actions towards a collective responsibility - rather than exclusively being the answer to a need that is usually seen as consumption from the economic literature - it is then also civic engagement, the localised practice of purchasing in a place that through its field choice, helps to free an area from forms of mafia parasitism, becoming a form of participation, of active citizenship. This work presents a first part which briefly deals with the concept of consumption culture and the particular form that critical consumption assumes. The second chapter deals with the analysis of reflection on critical consumption as a "practice" and as a "responsible" practice. The third chapter deals with the relationship between responsibility and "legal" purchase and finally, in the last chapter, some reflections are presented that has emerged from the testimony of one of the "Addiopizzo" associates which presents some interesting considerations regarding the balance of activities carried out twelve years after the birth of the association.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteCivic engagement in contemporary Italy
Numero di pagine34
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2019


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