Participation is central to the success of political consumption movements. To date, consumer research has explored participation from the lens of the individual consumer activist. In this article we argue that such actor-centric approaches that equate individual motivation and willingness of potential consumer activists with likely participation are limited because they imply consumer freedom and agency irrespective of context. By exploring political consumption amid conflict, we illustrate how a particular setting frames the behaviours and decision-making of political consumers. Drawing on findings from a study of consumer boycott as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign in the West Bank (occupied Palestinian territory), we outline a set of market and societal barriers that frame the participation of potential boycotters. We show how these political, economic and sociocultural factors influence the range of possible actions for consumers and make participation more problematic, if not impossible. The findings of this study call for a need to re-evaluate how political consumption can be an oppositional or transformational practice, and support recent calls for a consideration of the roles of agency and power in consumption. To this effect, we propose the concept of ‘situated agency’ to analyse participation in political consumption that moves beyond actor-centric explanations. We hope such reconsiderations will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of participation in political consumption across different consumption contexts.
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- Political consumption; consumer boycott; consumer agency; boycott
- divestments and sanctions; conflict
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Social Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics