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Durham University

Department of Geography

News Archive

Durham to Host Inaugural Geoforum Sponsored Workshop on Ethical Consumption and the Globalising Middle Classes: Philosophies, Policies & Practices

(27 January 2014)

The globalisation of production is increasingly being matched by the globalisation of consumerism beyond advanced capitalist societies. The workshop aims to make an original contribution to our understanding of this new phenomenon by focusing on the questions that the globalisation middle classes raise for forms of ethical consumption. Ethical consumption has been widely acknowledged and researched in advanced capitalist settings, in particular in North America and Western Europe. It is true that the world’s two largest markets for products labelled Fairtrade are the UK and USA, the biggest growth in 2009 was reported in the Czech Republic (386%) and South Africa (315%). The papers in the workshop address the over-arching questions of what the globalisation of consumerism and rising middle classes mean for ethical consumption beyond advanced capitalist societies. Is ethical consumption increasing with the rise of a global middle class and, if so, is that changing what ethical consumption entails? What does ethical consumption look like in rising power and emerging economy contexts, and how does this challenge existing conceptualisation? Moving beyond the connections made between consumers, distant others and environments in the case of ethically-labelled goods, this workshop will also coalesce research that broadens investigation to include the inherent moralities of consumption practices associated with ethics of care for the self and proximate others. The workshop has a number of invited contributors from the UK, continental Europe, Canada, Latin America and China.