Ethical Consumption, Values Convergence/Divergence and Community Development

  • Michael A. Long
  • Douglas L. Murray


Ethical consumption is on the rise, however little is known about the degree and the implications of the sometime conflicting sets of values held by the broad category of consumers who report consuming ethically. This paper explores convergence and divergence of ethical consumption values through a study of organic, fair trade, and local food consumers in Colorado. Using survey and focus group results, we first examine demographic and attitudinal correlates of ethical consumption. We then report evidence that while many organic, fair trade, and local food consumers converge around similar values, some Colorado consumers support only local food, while opposing the consumption of organic and fair trade products. Next, we investigate how ethical consumers who converge and diverge frame their commitment to consuming ethically. The discussion and conclusion suggest that community development planners of projects that focus on ethical consumption will need to successfully traverse issues stemming from convergence and divergence to enjoy long-term sustained success.


Ethical consumption Convergence Organic Fair trade Local food 



We would like to thank Bill Friedland, Laura Raynolds, Tom Shriver and the anonymous reviewers of earlier versions of this paper for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyColorado State UniversityFt. CollinsUSA

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