Mobile moralities: Ethical consumption in the digital realm

Humphery, K and Jordan, T 2018, 'Mobile moralities: Ethical consumption in the digital realm', Journal of Consumer Culture, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 520-538.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Mobile moralities: Ethical consumption in the digital realm
Author(s) Humphery, K
Jordan, T
Year 2018
Journal name Journal of Consumer Culture
Volume number 18
Issue number 4
Start page 520
End page 538
Total pages 19
Publisher Sage Publications
Abstract Ethical consumption, as a realm of production and exchange, a framework for purchasing decisions and as political activism, is now well established in a range of nations. As a politics, it points to an interconnected but divergent set of concerns centred on issues of environmental sustainability, local and global economic and social justice, and community and individual wellbeing. While the subject of sustained critique, not least because of its apparent privileging of the 'consumer' as the locus of change, ethical consumption has garnered increasing attention. This is most recently evident in the development and widening use of 'ethical consumption apps' for mobile devices. These apps allow the user to both access ethical information on products and, potentially, to connect with a broader politics of consumption. However, in entering the digital realm, ethical consumption also becomes embroiled in the complexities of digital technocultures and their ability to allow users of apps to be connected to each other, potentially building communities of interest and/or activism. This article explores this emerging intersection of the ethical and the digital. It examines whether such digital affordances affect the way ethical consumption itself may be conceived and pursued. Does the ethical consumption app work to collectivise or individualise, help to focus or fragment, speak of timidity, or potential in relation to an oppositional politics of consumption? In confronting these issues, this article suggests that contemporary ethical consumption apps - while full of political potential - remain problematic in that the turn to the digital has tended, so far, to accentuate the already individualising tendencies within a politics of ethical consumption. This speaks also, however, to a similar problematic in the politics of digital technocultures; the use of the digital does not automatically enable - merely through greater connectivity and information availability - forms of ra
Subject Social Change
Social Theory
Keyword(s) Ethical consumption
digital technocultures
mobile applications
consumption activism
digital activism
DOI - identifier 10.1177/1469540516684188
Copyright notice © The Author(s) 2016
ISSN 1469-5405
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