Correlates of Political Consumption in Africa

Correlates of Political Consumption in Africa

Emmanuel Adugu (University of West Indies – Cave Hill, Barbados)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0282-1.ch020
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Using the marketplace as a site for political action with social change motives is referred as political consumption. Boycott, as a form of political consumption is an innovative way being used by citizens to directly express their attitudes, interests and concerns with the ultimate goal of influencing public affairs. This book chapter specifically examines the correlates of boycott as a form of political consumption in Africa using Wave 6 of the World Values Survey. Based on binary logistic regression, the correlates of boycott action are: level of education, gender, social class, media usage, gender equality, institutional confidence, social network, interest in politics, life satisfaction, seeing oneself as being part of world citizenship, seeing oneself as being embedded in local community, importance of doing something for the good of society, importance of traditions, and importance of riches or expensive things. These findings have implications for reaching out to boycotters.
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Consumers As Market Actors

In general, consumption includes activities of buying goods, social relations connected to the provision, allocation and use of goods and services and can also be viewed as part of the social space in which people participate in creating and reproducing meanings about the occurrences of everyday life (Luckmann, 1989). Some scholars view consumption as a meaningful form of civic engagement (Scammell, 2000; Hertz, 2001). In an overview of consumption, Humphrey (1998, p. 7-8) identifies consumption as:

… a potential arena of personal empowerment, cultural subversion, and even political resistance…The ‘consumer’ was positioned as active, rather than passive, as the ‘producer’ of usages and meanings that the marketplace may not have assigned to a particular commodity or consumer space, and which potentially undermined or evaded consumerist ideologies.

Another comment which aptly illustrates the growing recognition of the potential power and agency of consumers is from Fiske’s summation of ‘cathedrals of consumption.’ Fiske (1991, p.31) asserts:

… [t]he values of commodities can be transformed by the practices of their users, as can those of language, for as language can have no fixed reference point in a universal reality, neither can commodities have final values fixed in their materiality. The practices of the users of a system not only can exploit its potential, but can modify the system itself. In the practices of consumption the commodity system is exposed to the power of the consumer, for the power of the system is not just top-down, or center-outward, but always two-way, always a flux of conflicting power and resistances.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Boycott: Punishing businesses for unfavorable behavior or a deliberate consumer choice not to purchase.

Political Consumption: An individualized action with the goal of directly influencing public affairs based on the belief that such an action may lead to desirable changes.

Political Efficacy: The feeling that political and social change is possible and that the individual citizen can play a part in bringing about this change.

Schwartz Values: Basic personal standards of behavior that are recognized across cultures, comprising the following main categories/dimensions: conservation, openness to change, self-enhancement and self-transcendence.

Social Change: A substantive alteration in structures, institutions, values and behaviors of society over a period of time.

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