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What is 'political' about consumerism? Political consumerism in Switzerland

English title What is 'political' about consumerism? Political consumerism in Switzerland
Applicant Kalte Deborah
Number 195339
Funding scheme Doc.Mobility
Research institution School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences Örebro University
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.10.2020 - 31.03.2021
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Keywords (4)

political participation; political consumerism; lifestyle politics; veganism

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Politischer Konsum ist die bewusste Wahl von Produkten und/oder Dienstleistungen auf der Grundlage ethischer, ökologischer, oder politischer Überzeugungen mit dem Ziel Politik, Gesellschaft und/oder Wirtschaft dementsprechend zu beeinflussen (z. B. der Konsum von fair gehandeltem Kaffee, um die Arbeits- und Lebensbedingungen der Kaffee-Produzenten zu verbessern).
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziele der Dissertation

Ziel der Dissertation ist es, den politischen Konsum umfassend und in all seinen Ausprägungen als eine relevante Form alternativer politischer Beteiligung zu verstehen und zu erklären. Die zwei am häufigsten vorkommenden Ausprägungen des politischen Konsums, der Boykott und der Buykott von Produkten (d.h. das explizite Wahl von Produkten anhand Labels wie Fairtrade, Bio, oder Regional), wurden erstmalig mittels eines eigens dafür kreierten Fragebogens sowie einer repräsentativen Bevölkerungsumfrage erhoben. Zusätzlich wurde der Veganismus, eine extreme Form des politischen Konsums welche zunehmend an öffentlicher Aufmerksamkeit gewinnt, mittels eines ebenfalls eigens dafür kreierten Fragebogens sowie einer nicht-repräsentativen Umfrage von 648 Veganern erhoben. Zuletzt wurde eine Tierschutz-Protestbewegung analysiert, welche eine bisher nicht untersuchte Form des diskursiven politischen Konsums darstellt.  

 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext der Dissertation

Regelmässig wird in der Schweiz über die vermeintlich tiefe politische Beteiligungsrate von Bürgerinnen und Bürgern diskutiert. Um diese Diskussion faktenbasiert zu führen, benötigt es valide und zeitgemässe Daten zur politischen Beteiligung, welche ebenfalls alternative Formen wie der politische Konsum umfassen. Die Dissertation leistet daher einen wichtigen Beitrag für eine umfängliche Erfassung und Analyse der politischen Beteiligung in der Schweiz.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 10.09.2020

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Political consumerism is the conscious choice of products and/or services on the basis of ethical, ecological or political considerations with the aim of influencing politics, society and/or the economy accordingly (e.g. the consumption of fairly traded coffee in order to improve the working and living conditions of coffee producers).
Lay summary

Content and goals of the dissertation

The aim of the dissertation is to understand and explain political consumerism comprehensively and in all its manifestations as a relevant form of alternative political participation. The two most common forms of political consumerism, the boycott and the buycott of products (i.e. the explicit choice of products based on labels such as Fairtrade, organic, or regionally produced), were analyzed for the first time by means of a specially created questionnaire and a representative population survey. In addition, veganism, an extreme form of political consumption that is increasingly gaining public attention, was also surveyed by means of a specially created questionnaire and a non-representative sample of 648 vegans. Finally, an animal rights protest movement was analyzed, which represents a so far unexamined form of discursive political consumerism. 

 

Scientific and social context of the dissertation

The supposedly low level of political participation of citizens is regularly discussed in Switzerland. In order to conduct this discussion on a factual basis, valid and up-to-date data on political participation are needed, which also include alternative forms such as political consumerism. This dissertation therefore provides an important contribution towards a comprehensive coverage and analysis of political participation in Switzerland.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 10.09.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Explaining the Reversed Gender Gap in Political Consumerism: Personality Traits as Significant Mediators
Gundelach Birte, Kalte Deborah (2021), Explaining the Reversed Gender Gap in Political Consumerism: Personality Traits as Significant Mediators, in Swiss Political Science Review, 27(1), 41-60.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Political/Ethical/Green Consumerism Individual talk Political Consumer Behavior among Foreign Residents: How Citizenship Status Determines Unconventional Political Participation 18.11.2020 Via Zoom, Sweden Kalte Deborah;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Aarauer Demokratietage: Frauen und Politik Talk 18.03.2021 Via Zoom, Switzerland Kalte Deborah;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Frauen machen Politik mit dem Portemonnaie: Shoppen, nicht nur abstimmen Blick German-speaking Switzerland 2021
Media relations: print media, online media Frauen und Politik der anderen Art: der politische Konsum deFacto German-speaking Switzerland 2021

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
169156 What is 'political' about consumerism? Political consumerism in Switzerland 01.02.2017 Project funding

Abstract

My dissertation is part of the research project ‘What is 'political' about consumerism? Political consumerism in Switzerland,’ which is led by Prof. Dr. Daniel Kübler and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (project number 169156). The overall objective of the research project is to analyze, understand and explain political consumerism as an emerging form of political participation in Switzerland. Political consumerism implies the active consumer choice along ethical, social, or political concerns and takes four different forms: boycotts (the refusal to buy products), buycotts (the conscious choice of products), discursive political consumerism (discursive means to reveal the politics behind products, e.g. protests), and lifestyle political consumerism (the alignment of one’s personal lifestyle according to certain principles, e.g. veganism).The specific aim of my dissertation is to analyze and understand every one of the four forms of political consumerism. As part of the research project, a special survey instrument was developed and carried out on a representative sample of Swiss residents, which led to comprehensive empirical data on boycotts and boycotts. In addition, an original survey of a purposive sample of vegans living in Switzerland was conducted, which offers first-time empirical insight on the vegan lifestyle. Beyond the research project and together with Dr. Christian Ewert, I analyze discursive political consumerism using a qualitative method of analysis. My dissertation procures a comprehensive analysis of the various forms of political consumer behavior and assessment of unconventional political participation in Switzerland. With these novel insights, it significantly and substantially adds to the current understanding of how political consumerism is conducted, and, at the same time, how political participation is generally adapting in Switzerland.
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