Attitudinal Measures of Political Consumption as a Form of Civic Engagement in a Developing Country

Attitudinal Measures of Political Consumption as a Form of Civic Engagement in a Developing Country

Emmanuel Adugu (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados) and Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw (Science & Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI), Accra, Ghana)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/IJCESC.2014100102
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Abstract

The use of the marketplace as a site for political action with social change motives is referred as political consumption. The phenomenon of political consumption has been widely studied in post-industrialized nations such as the United States of America but less is written about such social change-oriented behaviors in developing countries. This paper aims at determining the attitudinal measures of political consumption in Ghana, a developing nation in West Africa. The study is based on data collected in August 2013 from a total of 356 Ghanaians sampled from higher institutions of learning. Findings suggest that influence over government (political efficacy) is a consistent predictor of the respective attitudinal measures of political consumption. To some extent this pattern of behavior of engagement in political consumption contradicts findings in post-industrialized nations where it is consistently linked to variables such as: socio-demographics, political interest, and trust in institutions.
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Conceptualization Of Political Consumption

For some scholars, the concept of political consumption in simple terms means the buying or boycotting of products and or services based on political or ethical values with a motive for change (Micheletti, 2003; Micheletti & Stolle, 2005; Berlin, 2011). Political consumption implies intentionality (purposefulness) which differentiates it from habitual, routine or ordinary consumption (Halkier, 2004). Political consumption involves actions by individuals who make choices among producers and products with the goal of changing objectionable institutional or market practices (Sandovici & Davis, 2010, p.330). Thus through political consumption, consumers utilize their purchasing power to express their views about things such as ethical or fair business practices in the sphere of production (Lyon, 2006). It is in that vein that Webster (1975) conceptualizes a political consumer as someone who takes into account the public consequences of his or her private consumption or who attempts to use his or her purchasing power to bring about social change.

The enlightenment notion of freedom and awareness of the capacity to act (Goodman & DuPuis, 2002) is also manifested in political consumption. For that reason, political consumers use their knowledge, buying and organizing power to demand change (Dixon, 2003). In essence, political consumption can be considered as a distinct form of political participation, dependent upon consumers making deliberate market choices (Sandovici & Davis, 2010). It is informed by attitudes and values on broad issues of sustainable development and ethical, environmental, or political assessment of favorable and unfavorable corporate and government practice (Micheletti et al 2006, xiv-xv).

Other conceptualizations of political consumption focus on lifestyle identity and food consumption. Consumers are able to identify themselves as being socially and environmentally conscious individuals through political consumption (Raynolds, 2002; Berlin, 2011). Political consumption is becoming more central to food consumption as more individuals deliberate over what they will or will not let into their bodies (Dixon & Banwell, 2004), consciously choosing what to eat rather than letting tradition or habit dictate their choices (Sweetman, 2003).

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