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Politicizing Consumer Choice

Ethical Dimensions of Consumerism in the United States

Christian Gunkel

This book investigates various forms of political and ethical consumerism in the United States and delivers a comprehensive conceptualization of the consumer’s role in the marketplace. Both aspects, the potential impact of market-based activism on corporations in America and the socio-structural dynamics that may prevent the possibility of far-reaching social change through forms of alternative consumerism, are equally important in this regard. The historical ties between politics and consumption in America, and the diminishing role of the government as a regulatory force in the market since the end of Fordism, has spawned a unique form of consumer politics directed at the corporate world. The underlying question to be answered is whether the consumer is truly a force to be reckoned with.
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I am grateful to a number of people for their advice and support. To begin with, I would particularly like to thank Professor Astrid Franke of the University of Tübingen for her support and for writing the foreword.

I would also like to thank my friends: Nils Wiegand for bearing me company in the library and during our coffee breaks, Jonas Gasthauer whom I could turn to with all sorts of theoretical questions, and Daniel Gietz for encouraging me to publish my thesis. I am also grateful to Ina Schreiber for her patience with me as the deadline came closer. And finally, I want to thank my parents for their support.

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