Does neoliberalism’s ethical consumer create more problems than she solves? A discussion of a neocommunitarian alternative

Brønd Laursen, Nikolaj Kure



The ethical consumer occupies a significant position in the current capitalist system as the market-based answer to a whole range of negative externalities. Unfortunately, she has been proven to behave out of sync with her ethical values and thus has been taken apart by scholars as a mere myth. Yet, businesses and politicians continue to believe in her abilities. This, we argue, is not caused by them being blind to her failures but because the category of the ethical consumer represents an ideal solution in the neoliberal discourse that embraces the holy trinity of an unregulated market, personal emancipation and the freedom of choice. Unfortunately, the ethical consumer has turned out to be a poorly suited solution to the negative externalities as ecological and social critiques continue to emerge. In response, a neocommunitarian discourse seems to gain strength, replacing the neoliberal version of the market as a bifurcation point between customers and suppliers instead bringing together businesses and consumers in a new type of network formation overcoming the bifurcation between consumers and producers.  


the ethical consumer, neoliberalism, neocommunitarism, discourse

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