Understanding Political Consumerism, Political Participation, and Their Antecedents: Evidence From Turkey

Understanding Political Consumerism, Political Participation, and Their Antecedents: Evidence From Turkey

Ertem Gulen (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland) and Oguzhan Aygoren (Bogazici University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1196-1.ch011


Political consumerism is a form of self-expression where consumers boycott or buycott a brand, company, or a product. The increase in the amount of these actions in recent years has led scholars and marketers improve their understanding of how and why consumers engage in political consumerism and what its predecessors are. By employing a wide scale survey among 360 participants in Turkey, this study presents empirical and qualitative evidence for boycott behavior and investigates how other forms of political participation and individual level characteristics have an effect on political consumerism. Results suggest main reason for boycott behavior in Turkey is due to political reasons and conservatism as an individual level value orientation has a negative effect on boycott behavior. In addition, online activism and voting participation behaviors have positive effects on political consumerism.
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In recent years, consumers are experiencing a transition from being a passive buyer to being a prosumer (Ritzer & Jurgenson, 2010), creating new consumption experiences and participating in the process of collaborative marketing. In addition, spread of Internet and new media technologies help consumers to use their power to create a change in society and form a civic engagement. This is a form of political participation by consumers, thus leading to a recent phenomenon named as political consumerism. Buycott and boycott are two main forms of political consumerism and academic literature on this field is not yet mature. Also, empirical studies in the field is rare and context dependent. By employing a survey based study among Turkish consumers, this study presents individual level antecedents for political participation in the forms of activism and political consumerism.

Literature suggests that political consumerism, just like any other form of civic and political participation, requires resources and psychological engagement (Baek, 2010; Neilson & Paxton, 2010; Newman & Bartels, 2011; Shah et al., 2007; Stromsnes, 2009). Emergence of political consumerism dates back to World War II, caused by societal changes after war and historical social shift from materialist to post materialist values and personal values. Moreover, diffusion of Internet and new media technologies and changing citizenship practices and norms also constitute the standpoint of this more general understanding of political consumerism. On the grounds of these facts, political consumerism qualifies as a form of political participation. It is becoming more and more popular thanks to increasing power of consumers.

Despite the studies in the literature examining the predictors of political consumerism, most work focus on Western societies. In spite of its historical and contemporary significance, political consumption, as a research area, has been ignored or attracted by very few scholars in Turkey. Given that literature lacks empirical evidence on understanding and conceptualizing political consumerism among Turkish consumers, the aim of this study is to understand the reasons for boycott behavior and propose a model in understanding its antecedents in Turkey.

Remaining of the chapter continues with a literature review on political consumerism and other forms of political participation. Then a section is devoted to political consumerism in Turkey. This section is followed by individual level antecedents and hypothesis. Finally, findings, discussion and conclusion are presented.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Activism: Activist behaviors performed online such as joining a Facebook group or generating word-of-mouth online.

Political Consumerism: The act of using consumption as a way of supporting or protesting an ideology present in a company or brand.

Political Interest: The interest level of individuals into politics.

Political Participation: Activities of individuals that have an effect on politics.

Boycott: The act of non-consumption and even negative promotion towards certain brands and companies.

Buycott: The act of consumption and support towards certain brands and companies.

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