Political Consumerism and Participation in Times of Crisis in Italy
This chapter analyses the relationship between political consumerism and political participation in Italy during the current phase of economic crisis. It investigates whether political consumerism is increasing or declining in times of economic crisis; whether it is an alternative to other forms of political participation in the current crisis, such as protest and/or voting; how ‘political’ political consumerism is in times of crisis; and whether there has been some shift in the composition of the Italian political consumerism community in times of economic crisis. The analysis shows that during the economic crisis the share of people who have chosen this form of participation in Italy has drastically increased. Furthermore, it illustrates how citizens who choose political consumerism as a form of political participation show a high level of politicisation according to all the indicators, and it points out that there has been a visible change in the relationship between political consumerism and political participation in Italy during the economic crisis, with the crisis changing the constituency of economic activism and incentivising the involvement of people that participate in politics in innovative ways. Our findings about the increasing relevance of political consumerism in a context of economic crisis suggest that this form of action cannot be understood as an eminently middle-class ethical gesture, but rather as a political choice, typical of contexts characterised by a significant salience of politics in the public debate.
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