Ethical Consumerism

Ethical Consumerism: Motivations and Identities

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Researchers:  Julian Le Grand, Jonathan Roberts, Gauri Chandra

Ethical consumerism is a sphere of action where the contrasting values and behaviours of market and social purpose interact.  As a hybrid phenomenon, it presents an analytic and empirical riddle. Should it be, for instance, regarded as primarily a consumer act, an act of philanthropy, an act of political engagement – or all three? 

This research project explores individuals’ motivations for making ethical purchases.  It investigates the impact of distinct but connected motivational factors affecting altruistic or pro-social behaviour: sacrifice, reputation and self-identity.  It also focuses upon the identity of those who take part in ethical consumer transactions: are they a distinctively different set of actors from those who engage in traditional civic activities, such as volunteering, giving or activism?  Or is there overlap between the actors, so that ethical consumerism is effectively an extension of the civic action repertoire used by certain individuals? 


Le Grand J, Roberts J, Chandra G. 'Buying for good: Altruism, ethical consumerism and social policy'. Soc Policy Adm. 2021;1–15.

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