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Representative : Nina Gregg

Global Responsibility through Consumption? Resistance and Assimilation in the Anti-brand Movement

Research on responsibility through consumption
by Nina Gregg

Should consumers be the agents of responsible consumption?
Is responsible consumption even effective?
Good questions when considering how to raise awareness on responsibility. Suggested reading for a few answers …

In “Global responsibility through consumption?: Resistance and assimilation in the anti-brand movement,” her paper published in the journal critical perspectives on international business, Isleide Arruda Fontenelle questions the possible reach of anti-brand movements and shows how the assimilation of resistance has occurred through debates about empowerment and consumer accountability and the development of the “responsible consumption” discourse. Fontenelle points to the social risks of attributing a large degree of accountability to individuals for consumption.

The purpose of the paper is to question the possible reach of anti-brand movements and, by extension, those movements that criticize capitalism via consumption, in order to reflect on the impasse in critique, given the new formats that capitalism has assumed.

This paper takes as the object of its analysis the book No Logo by Naomi Klein, and it is supported by qualitative research into the production of the discourse about the responsible consumer in the business media, as well as in books and articles published about the assimilation of resistance, and more especially about the anti-consumption movement and the anti-brand movement.

The relationship between the empirical findings of the research—the production of the responsible consumption discourse, in the period before, and after the anti-brand movements—and theoretical articles about empowerment and consumer accountability in the modern day shows how the assimilation of resistance occurred, via the responsible consumption discourse and also draws attention to its limits. Although the qualitative research used in the article was not initially planned for use in it, its findings were incorporated because they are widely applicable to what was being proposed.

The paper’s originality lies in the fact that it shows the point that a criticism movement has reached after ten years. Although this was already clear to the author in 1999 when No Logo was written, a decade later it is possible to state that the movement has been assimilated by the market, especially since the appearance of the discourse of “responsible consumption.” What is completely novel in this article is this co-relation. At the end, the article also points to the social risks of attributing a large degree of accountability to individuals for consumption.


- Cola Consumption, by tk-link
- Weapons of mass consumption, by Josh Fassbind
- Off Consumption, by Gaurav Mishra

Published on: 7 December 2010
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Other network contributions
  • Putting Ethics into Action brought together staff and members of more than twenty advocacy, activist and policy organizations in New Mexico for a full day of conversations, panels and experiential workshops about institutionalizing representation, democratic decision-making, transparency and other hallmarks of ethical practice.

  • This Reflection in Action Document (RAD) offers some limited historical context for understanding social justice organizing in Colombia and the US and summarizes the thinking of action research project participants about the concept of responsibility.

  • Nina Gregg in the USA, Diego Escobar in Colombia, and Antonio Sama in the UK are working together (with Nina as project coordinator) on “Ethics & Responsibility in Community Organizing.” They gave careful thought to how they would be working toward the goal of writing a "Reflection on Action" document. This is their working methodology.

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