Fostering responsible communities: a community social marketing approach to sustainable living

Marylyn Carrigan, C. Moraes, S. Leek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


Just as socially irresponsible organizational behavior leaves a punitive legacy on society, socially responsible organizations can foster curative change. This article examines whether small organizations can foster societal change toward more sustainable modes of living. We contend that consumption is deeply intertwined with social relations and norms, thus making individual behavioral change toward sustainability a matter of facilitating change in individual behavior, as well as in social norms and relations between organizations and consumers. We argue that it is in this facilitation process that small firms can play a major role, by adopting upstream and downstream approaches to diffuse behavioral change. By synthesizing four key strands of literature – small businesses and corporate social responsibility, ethical consumption, community social marketing, and the diffusion of innovation – and using the exemplar case of Modbury, the iconic “plastic bag-free” town, we demonstrate how responsible small firms can influence communities, and the individuals therein, to encourage environmentally sustainable practice to diffuse and support change in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-534
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

Bibliographical note

Please note Professor Carrigan was working at the Open University at the time of publication.
The final publication is available at


  • community
  • CSR
  • small business
  • social marketing
  • sustainability

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